A fragmented political contest has pushed the AIADMK to test the electoral waters for the first time from the Coimbatore Lok Sabha constituency in 2014. Since its inception in 1972 and the first foray into a general election in 1977, the AIADMK had always allotted the seat in western Tamil Nadu to its national ally - the CPI, Congress, BJP and CPM in consecutive elections.
In the 10 Lok Sabha elections conducted since 1977, the CPI has won the seat in 1977 as part of the AIADMK alliance and in 2004 as a constituent of the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance. The Congress candidate had emerged victorious from this constituency in three successive elections - 1984, 1989 and 1991 - allying with the AIADMK on all occasions.
While the BJP won the seat alternately aligning with the AIADMK and DMK during the 1998 and 1999 elections, the CPM had emerged victorious in 2009, with the backing of the AIADMK. The DMK candidate had successfully contested from here in 1996. It remains a mystery why the AIADMK did not choose to field a candidate earlier in the urban constituency though it has a good support base.
In fact, barely two years after the party was formed, it wrested the Coimbatore (West) Assembly constituency from the then ruling DMK in the February 1974 by-election.
The Lok Sabha constituency consists of Assembly segments Coimbatore North, Coimbatore South, Kavundampalayam, Singanallur, Sulur and Palladam. Being an industrial hub with its numerous mills and a strong trade union base, the Left parties had built a decent base in the constituency. Yet, candidates of the CPI and CPM have managed to win only three out of the eight times when either of the parties tried its luck.
The BJP has also used Coimbatore as a good testing ground to build its base. While in 1989 its candidate polled 25,132 votes, two years later the number of votes garnered increased to 47,267, that too in the backdrop of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination sympathy wave. However, in 2009, when the party was forced to go it alone again, its vote share dipped to 4.6% .
The dynamics of the constituency underwent a change in the last elections with the entry the DMDK and KNMK. The latter which represents the interests of dominant Gounders in the region, secured a significant 15.54% of the vote share, while the DMDK got a vote share of 8.88% . It appears that the two parties have eaten into the votes of the BJP. The KNMK has lost some steam with the party splitting into three but it could still bank on its core community constituency.