THE DMK and Congress are hoping that their alliance, with Left and other parties holding up the rear, will help consolidate the Dalit, Muslim and Christian votes in their strongholds of south and central Tamil Nadu. With the AIADMK-BJP tie-up also gambling on the vote of backward classes, any extra numbers will help, the DMK hopes.
As they work out this caste calculation, the DMK and Congress are also expecting a boost in west and north Tamil Nadu due to anti-incumbency against the AIADMK government in the state and the BJP at the Centre, and anger among minority voters over their tie-up. A senior leader close to Stalin said they hope to win easily in at least 35 of the state’s 39 seats.
The DMK believes anti-incumbency gives it an edge in rural areas, which are traditionally an AIADMK vote bank, with discontent brewing over drought, demonetisation, farmer suicides, and centrally funded projects such as the neutrino project at Theni, a thermal plant project in Ramanathapuram district, and a major port project near Nagercoil.
During recent anti-BJP agitations, protesters have also raised issues such as the stand taken by the Centre on NEET exams, the Cauvery river dispute, the Centre ‘favouring’ Karnataka over the Mekedatu dam project, inadequate relief after Cyclone Gaja and even the Centre’s indifference towards the release of seven convicted for Rajiv Gandhi killing.
DMK chief Stalin is already on the road holding meetings across the state preparing the ground for the alliance.
A senior DMK leader said the party and Congress would retain their traditional strongholds in the seat distribution while keeping community considerations in mind. For instance in Thoothukudi, a district that witnessed police firing last May killing 13 protesting against the Sterlite project, is likely to see prominent DMK leader Kanimozhi contest. Kanimozhi has been active in Thoothukudi, and will also get votes of the majority Nadar community to which her mother Rajathi Ammal belongs.
Dayanidhi Maran, who was reportedly reluctant to contest earlier, is set to stand from the urban constituency of Central Chennai, while former Union minister A Raja may get Nilgiris, and former Union shipping minister T R Baalu Sriperumbudur.
In northern region, the DMK is hoping to gain from the presence of AIADMK rebel T T V Dhinakaran. In Western Tamil Nadu, where Chief Minister E Palaniswami and several ministers wield significant influence, the DMK has managed the support of local Gounder community leader E R Eswaran, the general secretary of the Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi (KMDK).
“No doubt, the alliance will come out with flying colours,” senior DMK leader and party treasurer Duraimurugan told The Indian Express.