CHENNAI: With the AIADMK joining the hustings, the Erode East bypoll has turned into a litmus test for the DMK government. The assembly segment falls in the Kongu belt, a stronghold of AIADMK interim general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS), and even when the party was facing anti-incumbency in 2021 Assembly election, the AIADMK-led alliance lost Erode East seat only by a margin of about 8,900 votes.
During the election campaign, the AIADMK is likely to raise the delay by the DMK government to fulfil its poll promises such as the Rs 1,000 monthly assistance to women heads of families and the Rs 100 subsidy on LPG cylinders.
The DMK will be forced to ensure victory of ally Congress to prove that the electorate remains satisfied with the regime, especially since the Congress is not known to put up an aggressive election campaign.
On Friday, Electricity Minister V Senthil Balaji exuded confidence that the DMK-led alliance would register a massive victory in the bypoll, and rightly so. In TN, ruling parties have historically had an advantage in bypolls. In the past two decades, they won most bypolls.
Political pundits, however, do not share Senthil Balaji’s optimism.Veteran journalist R Ram Mohan said caste dynamics would play a crucial role in this bypoll. When EPS contested in 2021 as CM candidate, the Kongu belt voted for AIADMK.
“AIADMK-led alliance secured over six lakh votes in the seven assembly segments of Erode in the 2021, that’s 40,000 votes more than what the DMK alliance managed to secure.”
If the AIADMK come out victorious in this bypoll, it might seal EPS’ control over the party, and he knows it too. “Undoubtedly, people in his native region will want him to become the single leader of the AIADMK and extend their support for him,” said a former MLA from Erode district.