Fourth consecutive loss in polls leaves EPS in a spot

In the LS polls, the party has been relegated to fourth position in Kanniyakumari and to 3rd in 9 other constituencies
Edappadi K Palaniswami
Edappadi K Palaniswami (File photo | PTI)

COIMBATORE: The AIADMK under the leadership of Edappadi K Palaniswami is going through one of its worst phases in electoral politics, losing the fourth major election. After the 2019 LS defeat, the party lost power to DMK in 2021 Assembly election and local body election the next year.

Rubbing salt into the wound, the party has been pushed to fourth place in Kanniyakumari and third in Chennai South, Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, Madurai, Nilgiris, Ramanathapuram, Theni, Tirunelveli and Vellore in 2024, a shocker for AIADMK supporters.

The party’s vote share has also come down considerably in the 2024 Lok Sabha election compared to previous elections.

Despite contesting in 34 seats (SDPI and Puthiya Tamilagam contested in two-leaves symbol and DMDK contested in five seats), the party managed to get a vote share of 20.46%. In 2019 (in alliance with PMK, BJP, DMDK, and TMC), though the party contested only 20 seats, it managed to get only 19.39% of the votes. When AIADMK contested 33 seats leaving six seats to BJP in 2004, the party managed to get 29.77% of vote share, despite losing all seats.

Surprisingly, AIADMK failed to retain its vote share in western and southern constituencies, which are considered as AIADMK’s strongholds. In former minister SP Velumani’s Thondamuthur Assembly segment in Pollachi Lok Sabha constituency, the party candidate managed to secure 57,927 votes whereas BJP managed to get 56,817 votes and DMK got 98,355 votes.

In the 2021 Assembly election, AIADMK won nine out of 10 seats in Coimbatore (BJP in alliance with AIADMK won Coimbatore South) and Velumani won by a margin of over 41,000 votes. But this time, DMK got more votes than AIADMK in all Assembly segments. There were murmurs in the AIADMK circle that SP Velumani did not put in the same hard work that he had done in the past.

The same is the case with other western districts. In Gobichettipalayam (KA Sengottaiyan) Bhavani (KC Karuppannan) CPI candidates managed to get more votes than AIADMK. In Tiruppur North Assembly segment, which is considered as a very strong AIADMK bastion, the party fared poorly this time. The election results show that many senior leaders of the party did not do proper groundwork and showed little interest in the Lok Sabha election.

Only in Namakkal and Kallakurichi, AIADMK had a lead for a brief period before losing by a margin of 29,112 votes and 53,784 votes respectively. The only two exceptions were the Edappadi Assembly segment in Salem, where the AIADMK candidate managed to get 46,320 more votes than DMK’s TM Selvaganapathy and Namakkal district where former minister P Thangamani’s field work ensured the party gave a good fight to DMK.

In the south, OPS and TTV played spoilsport for AIADMK, pushing the party to third place in Ramanathapuram and Theni.

Former AIADMK MP KC Palanisamy is of the opinion that BJP and NTK have eaten into the anti-DMK vote share, which the party had enjoyed over the years. “Voters in Tamil Nadu mobilised on whether they wanted the BJP government in the centre or not. The DMK won mainly because of these anti-BJP votes. Throughout his campaign, Edappadi K Palaniswami has not criticised the BJP much. His anti-BJP stand was restricted to Annamalai,” he said, adding that the candidate selection was not done well and the election campaigning was also not effective.

Ramu Manivannan, former head of the political science department at the University of Madras, said, “AIADMK is geographically divided into west, north and south. With this geographical polarisation within the party, there will be a reduction in the vote share. In southern districts like Madurai, Theni, and Ramanathapuram, leaders like O Panneerselvam, TTV Dhinakaran and VK Sasikala have an influence. Palaniswami is not reconciling with them. Sooner or later they have to make a decision.”

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