CHENNAI: Five months after losing power, the AIADMK has faced a big drubbing in the elections to the rural local bodies in nine districts. Political observers and party insiders are of the view that disunity among top leaders on key issues and lack of proper strategy have cost the AIADMK dearly.
Incidentally, the poor show by AIADMK in rural elections comes ahead of VK Sasikala’s (aide of former CM J Jayalalithaa) reentry into politics with a Statewide visit. The results also show the AIADMK’s campaign that the DMK failed to fulfil its key electoral promises, including abolishing NEET, didn’t appeal to the people.
However, the DMK was able to reach out effectively with its campaign that it had fulfilled over 200 electoral promises within a short period — from the way Covid pandemic was handled to a white paper on State’s finances, which blamed the previous AIADMK regime.
The AIADMK is now under compulsion to reel out damage-control exercise, feels a senior functionary who had worked with party founder MG Ramachandran (MGR). On condition of anonymity, he told TNIE: “To recover from this setback, top leaders O Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami should shed their differences and visit the party headquarters together regularly and meet the functionaries. In AIADMK, ‘groupism’ is now at the top level and not at the grassroots level. This should be done immediately so that the party can improve its performance at least in the forthcoming urban local body elections.”
Senior journalist P Sigamani has a different view. “The party’s defeat in these seven districts seems to be a continuation of its poor show in the Assembly elections in these districts.” He said after defeat in the Assembly elections, the AIADMK leaders were satisfied with issuing statements and failed to create an impression among the public that the party would bounce back. Also, party leaders themselves were speaking in different voices.
However, AIADMK’s steering committee member JCD Prabhakar sought to downplay the party’s performance in rural elections. “A ruling party winning local body polls is not a big thing. Even during the days of party founder MGR, the AIADMK had faced defeat in local body elections and later bounced back to register a big win in the next elections. So, this defeat will not affect the party.”
Prabhakar also said everyone knew how the Madras High Court had censured the previous DMK regime for irregularities in local body elections. “In these elections too, violations took place,” he added. When asked if this defeat would pose more problems to the party in the coming days since Sasikala is planning to reenter politics soon, a senior leader of the party told TNIE: “She has been releasing audio recordings but it did not have any impact on AIADMK cadre. No important functionary has called on her since she has no public appeal.”
Senior journalist Durai Karuna, tracing the origins of AIADMK, recalled that MGR and later J Jayalalithaa had nurtured strong anti-DMK impulses among the cadre. After the death of Jayalalithaa, the party’s dual leadership deviated from that path because it was more keen on protecting the AIADMK government but neglected the party. “As a result, the cadre lost their morale and enthusiasm and this was reflected in the results. Also, differences between top leaders Panneerselvam and Palaniswami majorly contributed to this setback,” he said.
OPS, EPS claim DMK violated rules to secure victory
Chennai: Describing the DMK’s win in the rural local body elections as a “backdoor victory” with the State Election Commission (SEC) serving as the DMK government’s puppet, AIADMK leaders O Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami on Wednesday said the AIADMK would present the “violations of rules” by the DMK and the haplessness of the SEC before the Madras High Court and seek justice. In a joint statement, Panneerselvam and Palaniswami thanked those who voted for candidates of the AIADMK and its allies. They said the counting of votes was deliberately delayed in many places and the SEC didn’t show any interest in declaring the victory of AIADMK candidates. Also, in many other places, losers were declared as winners, they alleged. AIADMK spokesperson RM Babu Murugavel had submitted seven complaints to the SEC. Panneerselvam and Palaniswami recalled various incidents that took place during the counting process, and said that despite complaints, the SEC didn’t take any action
‘Sasikala will not have any impact’
Incidentally, the poor show by AIADMK in rural elections comes ahead of VK Sasikala’s re-entry into politics. However, a senior leader of the party told TNIE: “She has not had any impact on AIADMK cadre. No important functionary has called on her.”