CHENNAI: While PMK scion Anbumani Ramadoss has launched a publicity blitzkrieg projecting himself as an alternative Chief Ministerial candidate, it appears that the DMK is seeking to counter him only in the Vanniyar belt and not in the whole of Tamil Nadu. The fact that the PMK’s vote bank is heavily concentrated in the regions where the Vanniyar community is numerically dominant is well known.
Incidentally, DMK heir apparent M K Stalin strategically desisted from countering Anbumani or the PMK openly at his Cuddalore conference on Saturday. Instead, he fielded his party’s regional satraps to do the job.
DMK Villupuram veteran K Ponmudy and Cuddalore strongman MRK Panneerselvam were the ones who launched a scathing attack questioning Anbumani’s capability to win power with his limited vote share that is spread in the two districts and a few other northwestern regions.
Till now, Stalin has avoided commenting on Anbumani’s vigorous campaign, and focused his attacks on DMK’s arch rival - the AIADMK. He has refused to take up the challenge of a debate with Anbumani and ignored the PMK’s harsh criticism on the DMK. At the same time, his strategy left none in doubt that a bonding between the DMK and PMK is ruled out for the upcoming 2016 Assembly polls.
Analysts, however, say that though Panneerselvam chose to run down the PMK as a “four per cent (vote bank) party”, the DMK cannot ignore the PMK’s challenge in the Vanniyar pockets.
Observers recall how the PMK and DMK have often been at loggerheads since the days of the Vanniyar Sangam.
In September 1986, shortly after the DMK had bagged a majority of the local bodies, members of the Vanniyar Sangam had clashed with the cadre of the DMK. The PMK perpetuated the animosity during the 1989 Parliamentary polls. The PMK has always split the Vanniyar votes in the northern districts where the DMK is also strong.
“Since 1989, the PMK has captured a significant vote share in Vanniyar-dominated constituencies, even pushing either of the major Dravidian parties to the third spot in some places. The party could make a difference in about 40 to 50 Assembly constituencies in six districts,” an observer said. It is in this backdrop that the DMK is seeking to counter the PMK in these constituencies through its regional satraps who also belong to the Vanniyar community.