Finally, the DMK has ‘permanently expelled’ its south zone secretary and party president M Karunanidhi’s son Alagiri. When he was first quarantined the last time around, the party paid a heavy price, losing 59 of the 62 seats in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu in the Assembly elections in 2001.
The DMK was able to win only three seats — Oddanchathiram, Sattur and Palayamkottai - in south Tamil Nadu. In all, the party polled 30.92% votes in that election, but secured only 31 seats, while the AIADMK with just 31.44% votes succeeded in getting 132 seats.
Expelled Alagiri put up rebel candidates in many of the constituencies in the southern districts and played a major role in the defeat of DMK stalwarts such as former Speaker P T R Palanivelrajan.
Besides, the MDMK, which quit the DMK front on the eve of the 2001 elections, due to disagreement in seat sharing, was responsible for the loss of the DMK front’s candidates in 25 constituencies, since the combined votes of the two parties was more than that of the winning candidate.
While five of the 25 constituencies - Chengalpattu, Alandur, Bhuvanagiri, Tirupattur and Sankarapuram - were in north Tamil Nadu, three of them, viz., Musiri, Lalgudi and Pattukottai were in the delta districts.
However, 17 of the constituencies where MDMK spoiled the DMK’s chances were in the southern districts. They included Madurai West, Madurai Central, Dindigul, Mudhukulathur, Sankarankoil, Ottapidaram, Vasudevanallur, Virudhunagar, Sivakasi, Rajapalayam, Vilathikulam, Koilpatti, Kadayanallur, Tirunelveli, Srivaikuntam and Colachel.
The MDMK, which contested 211 constituencies and supported the BJP in the other seats, garnerned 4.65 per cent votes. Vaiko not only ate up the DMK’s vote share, he also denied his parent party the opportunity to reduce the Jayalalithaa government into a minority although the AIADMK had contested only in 141 seats and allocated the rest to its allies - TMC, Congress, PMK and Left parties.
In 2001, Alagiri and Vaiko were working against the DMK separately; now there is a possibility of them teaming up. Vaiko has already met Alagiri and sought his support and the latter had promised to consider his request.
In 2001, the MDMK was fighting on its own and its impact was totally negative. The situation is different now as the MDMK, contesting in four of the Lok Sabha constituencies -Virudhunagar, Tenkasi, Thoothukudi and Theni - is in the BJP front with the support of Vijayakant’s DMDK, which has good presence in the south.
If the past in anything to go by, the DMK is certainly facing an uphill task in south Tamil Nadu.