CHENNAI: The DMK-led alliance swept the Lok Sabha elections in the State, with the Opposition party leading in 37 of the 38 seats as per results at 7.30pm on Thursday.
The AIADMK alliance, which includes the BJP, PMK, and DMDK, was touted as arithmetically strong on paper but on Thursday evening was left leading in the sole constituency of Theni, in which deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam's son Raveendranath Kumar was fielded. Polls to the Vellore constituency were countermanded following the seizure of a large amount of cash.
The election results have surpassed exit poll predictions for the DMK front and are believed to have exceeded the party's own expectations. The landslide win is primarily attributed to the strong anti-BJP sentiment among the voters in the state, which DMK chief MK Stalin tapped into while campaigning. The party's success in the first general election since his father, DMK patriarch, M Karunanidhi's death has boosted Stalin's standing in the party and state.
Meanwhile, the AIADMK, which went it alone in 2014 and won 37 of 39 seats in TN, faced a virtual rout that insiders believe could have been avoided if the party had faced the polls without the BJP. Notably, in the bypolls to the 22 Assembly seats that the AIADMK contested on its own the party is leading in nine seats, four more than required for a majority in the House.
The AIADMK government, led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, which has been surviving on a wafer-thin majority appears to be safe thanks to its bypoll performance achieved despite the void left by late CM J Jayalalithaa.
As for national parties, while the Congress is leading in eight seats and the CPI and CPM in two each, all as part of the DMK alliance, the BJP has fared poorly with all five of its candidates trailing by huge margins in Kanniyakumari, Sivaganga, Coimbatore, Thoothukudi and Ramanathapuram constituencies.
Pon Radhakrishnan, who was elected the saffron party's sole representative from the state in 2014 by a margin of 1.28 lakh votes over Congress contestant H Vasanthakumar in Kanniyakumari, was trailing Vasanthakumar by 2.49 lakh votes at 7.30pm.
Similarly, BJP state president Tamilisai Soundararajan was trailing DMK women's wing secretary K Kanimozhi in Thoothukudi, national secretary H Raja was trailing Congress' Karti Chidambaram in Sivaganga, CP Radhakrishnan was trailing CPM's PR Natarajan in Coimbatore while Nainar Nagendran was trailing Indian Union Muslim League (a DMK ally) candidate K Navaskani in Ramanathapuram.
The strong anti-Modi mood among voters in the State has built up over the past five years with many believing that the BJP government at the Centre has neglected the State's interests.
Key issues that have contributed to this feeling include the introduction of NEET examination for medical admissions, approval of GAIL pipeline projects in the delta region, perceived indifference during cyclones Ockhi and Gaja and neglect of the water sharing issues with neighboring states.
Further, the suicide of 17-year-old MBBS aspirant S Anitha of Ariyalur district over NEET and police firing against anti-Sterlite protesters in Thoothukudi boosted the anti-BJP sentiment, observed political commentators.