The RK Nagar Assembly by-election verdict should worry DMK’s de facto chief M K Stalin as much as it does the ruling AIADMK.
On the day the bypoll was notified, word on the street was the DMK would be a runaway winner because AIADMK rebel TTV Dhinakaran would eat into the ruling party’s votes. Stalin began well by taking the initiative of stitching together a huge alliance of opposition parties. For the first time in a over a decade Vaiko’s MDMK campaigned for the DMK.
The VCK too went that way as did both Left parties, though CPM later didn’t play ball on the 2G verdict, urging the Centre to quickly file an appeal against the acquittal of DMK’s Kanimozhi, A Raja, et al. That the DMK lost its deposit, getting only 13.9 per cent of the votes polled, is a reflection of Stalin’s insipid leadership.
In the 2016 Assembly polls, DMK got 57,673 votes as compared to J Jayalalithaa’s 97,218. Despite the much bigger coalition this time around, the DMK polled much less than 50 per cent of what it got in 2016 —just 24,651.
Stalin couldn’t have strategically transferred votes to Dhinakaran to spite the AIADMK because that would have rendered the coalition meaningless.
Knives will surely be out within the party with siblings Kanimozhi coming back from the 2G cold and M K Alagiri possibly preparing to strike. While Dhinakaran, with 89,013 votes was the runaway winner, polling close to half that of AIADMK’s E Madhusudhanan (48,306 votes), together they got a whopping 1,37,319 votes, which works out to 77.55 per cent. Since both sought votes in the name of Jayalalithaa and her party, it can be safely said that the AIADMK vote base is very much intact.
AIADMK leaders Thambidurai and Sellur Raju sought to interpret it as a verdict in favour of the policies and programmes inspired by Jaya. To keep it going and ensure her legacy is alive, it is time Dhinakaran and the ruling faction bury the hatchet instead of working at cross-purposes.