Tamil Nadu polity is becoming a four-cornered ring

With the AIADMK and BJP, with their alliance partners in tow, and NTK promising a hard-fought, four-cornered contest in the future, elections in Tamil Nadu are likely to become more exciting.
DMK supporters celebrate the party's lead during counting of votes for Lok Sabha elections, at party headquarters, Anna Arivalayam, in Chennai, Tuesday, June 4, 2024.
DMK supporters celebrate the party's lead during counting of votes for Lok Sabha elections, at party headquarters, Anna Arivalayam, in Chennai, Tuesday, June 4, 2024.PTI photo

Tamil Nadu has continued to be one of the most fertile grounds for the INDIA bloc. It scored a perfect 40 out of 40, with DMK pulling out a stellar performance. Numerous roadshows by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to garner support for NDA could not halt the DMK march. Though the lotus failed to bloom in the state, the BJP can take heart in the fact that its vote share almost doubled to 11.26 percent.

On the other side, AIADMK, the state’s principal opposition, slipped once again—the fourth time in a row—drawing a blank. It lost security deposits in seven of the 34 constituencies it contested, the worst Lok Sabha outing for the party since its inception in 1972. Its vote share dipped to 20.44 percent. Without making much noise, Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK), a Tamil nationalist party fighting all alone, doubled its vote share to 8.15 percent and established itself as a formidable player.

The flop show by BJP and AIADMK has fuelled murmurs in favour of a rapprochement between the two former partners, though their top leaders have rejected any such possibility. BJP state chief K Annamalai questioned the proposition, saying his party faced an unprecedented rout in 2019 despite the alliance. The AIADMK, too, reiterated there is no change in its stand on keeping the BJP away. Annamalai does not seem to be a big fan of his party’s proven strategy of hitching a ride with an established local party until it is time to fly on its own.

The AIADMK is worried about the minority vote bank shifting to its Dravidian rival if it opts to ally with the saffron party. The AIADMK may have managed to hold on to its core vote bank despite a delayed campaign and not-so-popular candidates, but it has reasons to worry about the leak in anti-incumbency votes in favour of the BJP and NTK.

The DMK, led by M K Stalin, an anchor for the INDIA bloc, has continued its march with several social welfare measures winning hearts. The party also seems to have gained from the division of opposition votes. With the AIADMK and BJP, with their alliance partners in tow, and NTK promising a hard-fought, four-cornered contest in the future, elections in Tamil Nadu are likely to become more exciting.

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