Is there space in Tamil Nadu for non-Dravidian third front?

An analysis of vote share shows both the Dravidian majors have managed to secure a combined 60% or more votes since 1989; past attempts have been futile

Published: 07th February 2021 05:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th February 2021 05:03 AM   |  A+A-

Makkal Needhi Maiyam chief Kamal Hassan during a press meet in Chennai. (Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)

Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Hassan (File Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: With just months to go for Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, the puzzling question of a third front has resurfaced. With actor-politician Kamal Haasan’s MNM and Seeman’s NTK planning to enter the electoral battle without any ties to major Dravidian players, the potential for a non-Dravidian front is being widely discussed.

However, an analysis of vote share garnered by various parties shows that the AIADMK and DMK have managed to secure a combined 60 per cent or more votes in every election since 1989. When alliance partners are accounted for, the Dravidian majors and their allies have garnered between 70 per cent to 89 per cent of the vote share in every Assembly election. Only on three occasions have non-Dravidian fronts managed a respectable vote share – Congress with 19.83 per cent in 1989, DMDK with 8.38 per cent in 2006 and the rainbow alliance of the People’s Welfare Front with 15 per cent in 2016.

Even in the worst combined performance of the Dravidian alliances (69.79 per cent in 1989), only 30 per cent of votes were polled by a third front. Assuming such an unlikely performance from the alliances in 2021, the remaining 30 per cent of votes will be split among independent candidates and small parties like the NTK which won’t form a separate alliance. Political commentator Raveentharan Duraisamy says this is a result of Tamil Nadu’s tendency to vote for Chief Ministerial candidates, and not the alliances.

“The voters of the State are well aware of which person will be the CM from which party. As of now, DMK’s MK Stalin, AIADMK’s Edappadi K Palaniswami, NTK’s Seeman and MNM’s Kamal Haasan are in the race. Depending on what AMMK’s TTV Dhinakaran decides or if actor Rajinikanth changes his mind, accordingly the votes will get split further,” he said. However, DMK’s propaganda secretary RT Sabapathy Mohan attributes this situation to the Dravidian movement’s impact on the State. “Every family in Tamil Nadu has benefitted from the Dravidian parties in general and the DMK in particular.

Be it bus facilities in remote villages, reservation for higher education or job opportunities, old age pension, farmers’ market, wedding assistance, or any other welfare measure, these are all achievements of parties with Dravidian ideology. So, no one can rattle the Dravidian parties in the State,” he said, dismissing the notions of a third front as a mere ploy.

Orator and self-proclaimed Dravidian idealogue Nanjil Sampath believes that the vote share of both the parties prove that ‘Tamil Nadu is a land of ideology’. “The State has witnessed a great deal of development, thanks to the vision of Dravidian leaders. As a result, even powerful and mass leaders such as MDMK’s Vaiko, VCK’s Thol Thirumavalavan, DMDK’s Vijayakant and leaders of Communist parties have failed to attract votes to their third front in the previous Assembly elections,” he said.


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