CHENNAI: While the ruling AIADMK faced a rout in the Lok Sabha elections, winning only in Theni, it fared much better in the crucial bypolls to 22 Assembly segments. The party, which went it alone, won nine of the 22 seats and DMK winning 13.
Though the AIADMK needed only four seats, with a few disgruntled MLAs threatening to rebel, the tally of nine has placed AIADMK in a relatively comfortable position.
The party’s relative success also indicated that it may have had a better chance in the parliamentary elections, if it had faced them without an alliance with the BJP, against whom there is a strong antipathy in the State. In the bypolls, the party managed to win three of the four seats in the western region — Sulur, Harur (SC) and Pappireddipatti — losing to the DMK in Hosur where it had fielded S Jothi, wife of former minister Balakrishna Reddy.
Reddy’s conviction in an old riots’ case was the reason for the seat falling vacant. Given the party had decided to focus on the West rather than in its traditional bastion of the South, the success here would assuage the wounds of losing heavily in the LS polls in this region.
The other six seats it won were Manamadurai, Paramakudi, Sattur and Nilakottai in the south, proving it had retained its base in the region despite the threat from TTV Dhinakaran’s AMMK. It also won the Ambur and Sholingur seats in the north.
Aside from ensuring the safety of the Edappadi K Palaniswami’s government, the success cemented the chief minister’s position in the party and state, having led the AIADMK through its first major electoral challenge since the death of former CM J Jayalalithaa and having successfully dealt with the threat posed by the AMMK, especially in the south.
The DMK, which had campaigned on the premise that it would topple the State government after the bypoll results were announced, had to make do with only 13 seats. It had needed as many as 21 ones to capture Fort St George.
However, the party which swept the Lok Sabha polls in the State may not be too dismayed. If it had indeed won 21 or 22 seats in the bypolls, it would have been placed in the unenviable position of having to run the government for two years — too short a period in which to accomplish anything, but long enough to face flak for having achieved nothing.