After a poor show in the Lok Sabha polls, the ruling AIADMK received a shot in the arm Thursday after its candidates registered a thumping win in the Vikravandi and Nanguneri Assembly bypolls.
In Vikravandi, AIADMK’s Muthamizhselvan defeated DMK’s N Pugazhendhi by a margin of 44,924 votes. Similarly in Nanguneri, AIADMK’s Narayanan won against Congress candidate R Manoharan by a margin of 33,445 votes.
The DMK’s decision to field Pugazhendhi, a member of the Vanniyar community, appears to have backfired as it lost the Dalit vote in Vikravandi. Ahead of the election, DMK president M K Stalin promised that the Vanniyar community would be given 20 percent reservation and a memorial would be built for Vanniyar leader A Govindasamy if the party was voted to power. This was likely to have upset the Dalits as they felt ignored by the party.
The Vikravandi constituency, which underwent delimitation process in 2008, is home to 2.24 lakh voters and has a sizeable number of Vanniyars. This pushed both the Dravidian parties to field candidates from those community candidates.
Meanwhile, the Congress loss in Nanguneri assembly constituency has raised questions over its candidate selection. The Congress, which had won six times in the constituency, picked Ruby Group chairman R Manoharan, a political novice.
It is learnt that Manoharan wasn’t able to collaborate with the second rung leaders on the ground to reach out to the public. With Nanguneri being home to a large number of Gram Panchayath Unions, farmers and other economically-weaker sections appeared to have preferred Narayanan, a local AIADMK candidate whom they thought was more approachable.
DMK’s ally partners also didn’t campaign actively in the constituency. VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan, MDMK chief Vaiko had all but made a single appearance. Whereas AIADMK’s allies like DMDK’S Premalatha Vijayakanth, PMK’s Ramadoss, Sarathkumar campaigned tirelessly till the end.
The bypoll results are a significant precursor to the upcoming local body elections and the assembly elections in 2021. Though the DMK alliance made a significant impact on the Lok Sabha elections winning 37 of 38 seats, it struggled to keep the momentum going in the assembly bypolls. In the simultaneously held assembly bye-elections in April, the AIADMK, which was surviving on a wafer-thing majority, managed to win 9 of the 22 seats and secure its hold on the government.
After today’s wins in Vikravandi and Nanguneri, AIADMK’s strength in the assembly increased to 125 out of 234 seats. DMK has 100 legislators and its ally Congress has seven.
Reacting to the victory, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy said the bypoll results are a victory of honesty. “Justice has prevailed. This is a historic bye-poll, people have voted for the truth. They have rejected DMK’s false propaganda; I thank them for making this victory possible. I thank all my ministers, our ally leaders, and all AIADMK cadres for proving AIADMK a huge victory. Our government will amend all our pre-poll pro mises, we will secure victory in the local body elections as well,” he said.
DMK Chief MK Stalin said he accepts people’s mandate and said he will strive hard to gain everyone’s trust. “I thank the people of Vikravandi and Nanguneri who voted for us. We will learn from our past mistakes and succeed in the future,” he said.
The elections in Vikravandi in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu was necessitated following the death of DMK legislator K Rathamani in June and Nanguneri constituency fell vacant after HL Vasantha Kumar of the Congress resigned after being elected as the MP from the Kanyakumari district.