May 3, 2021 4:12:20 am
Staving off a strong challenge from incumbent AIADMK, the alliance led by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Sunday won or has leads in 157 seats out of 234, paving the way for the DMK’s return to power after a gap of 10 years.
At the time of going to press, the DMK had won or was leading in 133 seats (up from the 89 seats it won in 2016); the Congress in 16 of the 25 seats it contested; Dalit Party VCK in four seats; and the CPM and the CPI in two seats each.
Under the leadership of DMK chief M K Stalin, who is set to take charge as Chief Minister, the party had earlier won 38 of the 39 seats in the 2019 parliamentary polls.
The AIADMK-led alliance has 85 seats, with 76 seats for the AIADMK (down from 136 in 2016), 5 for the PMK, and 4 for the BJP.
While the DMK victory was largely on expected lines, the ruling AIADMK also put up a strong fight, with Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami single handedly leading the poll campaign, riding on his clean image and his handling of the pandemic last year. But there were several factors stacked against the AIADMK — the burden of the alliance with the BJP and the rebellion of the Sasikala faction, among others.
The traditional pattern of urban and semi-urban regions favouring the DMK was in evidence in almost all the urban constituencies, including Chennai and Trichy. All Assembly seats in Thiruvallur district, north of Chennai, voted for the DMK. The DMK also won in the Cauvery delta districts as well as central and southern Tamil Nadu.
The AIADMK, however, made significant gains in parts of northern Tamil Nadu and the Kongu belt in the west, where Palaniswami hails from. What seemingly helped the AIADMK in northern Tamil Nadu was the 10.5% reservation that the party announced for the OBC-Vanniyar community and in the west, Palaniswami’s massive infrastructure push in the form of flyovers and bridges.
Among the big winners is Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi, who recorded what’s probably one of the biggest victory margins in the state, winning by over 60,000 votes from Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni.
Among the big names who lost are TTV Dhinakaran of the AMMK, who lost to AIADMK minister Kadambur Raju, bringing the curtains down on the politics of the Sasikala faction, at least for now. Veteran movie actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan lost to BJP’s Vanathi Srinivasan.
Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman, DMDK leader Captain Vijayakanth’s wife Premalatha, BJP state president L Murugan, former IPS officer and the BJP’s Aravakurichi candidate Annamalai, former BJP national secretary H Raja also lost.
Former BJP Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan was defeated in the bypoll to the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat, losing to the Congress’s Vijay Vasanth.
Senior AIADMK ministers K T Rajendra Balaji, K C Veeramani, D Jayakumar, Ma Foi Pandiarajan and C Ve Shanmugam were also defeated in the election.
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