TIRUPPUR: Postal ballots and minority votes played a decisive role in the loss of BJP State president L Murugan in Dharapuram.
DMK's Kayalvizhi secured 89,986 votes of which 1515 were postal ballots, and Murugan received 88,593, including 629 postal votes. Kayalvizhi defeated Murugan by 1,393 votes, thanks largely to the postal votes.
BJP surprised many by its decision to field Murugan in Dharapuram. Sources said the bickering between Congress and DMK cadres was among the reasons for BJP choosing the constituency. DMK cadre and functionaries were disillusioned with incumbent Congress MLA VS Kalimuthu, and urged the high command not to allot the seat to allies. The Congress flexed its muscle by making MP and senior leader scion Rahul Gandhi address a rally in the town on January 24. Eventually, DMK kept the seat to itself and offered Udumalaipet to Congress. Kayalvizhi Selvaraj was fielded as the candidate.
With the battle lines drawn, BJP went all out to secure victory for its state president.
With active support from AIADMK, BJP organisers canvassed in every nook and cranny of the town. AIADMK strongman and Minister Udumalaipet K Radhakrishnan and former MP C Mahendran accompanied Murugan when he filed his nomination papers on March 18. BJP functionaries acknowledged that they received ample support from AIADMK. For more than 20 days, many AIADMK leaders travelled with Murugan in campaigning. The highlight of BJP's campaigning Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a meeting in Dharapuram along with Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and other senior leaders.
Meanwhile, supporters of Kayalvizhi Selvaraj, a longtime member of DMK, concentrated on their traditional strongholds.
What went wrong ?
The strategy seemed to pay dividends as Murugan took the lead right of around 1000-1500 over Kayalvizhi from the beginning and maintained it up to 13 rounds. The slide started after the 14 round and Kayalvizhi surged ahead as
ballot boxes from Dharapuram Town were opened. Dharapuram town has a significant population of Muslims and their votes tilted the scales in DMK's favour.
Most importantly, postal votes played a significant role. After 25 rounds, Kayalvizhi secured 88,471 votes, and Murugan received 87,964 votes. The DMK candidate, already enjoying a lead of over 500 votes, was catapulted to the top slot when 1,515 postal votes were polled in favour.
Kayalvizhi's victory margin might have been much bigger but for two independent candidates who went by her name. While K Kayalvizhi bagged 887 votes, P Kayalvizhi got 201 votes. An independent named A Murugan gathered around 824 votes.
Total votes (postal votes): 194,505
DMK (Kayal Vizhi) : 89986
BJP (L Murugan) : 88593
NOTA : 1881
Winning margin: 1393