TN polls: How DMK is playing Dalit and Vanniyar cards to beat VCK and PMK

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The DMK is likely to reap the benefits of the seeds it had sown five year ago. In 2011, Karunanidhi's party gained little despite making alliance with the PMK and VCK. But this time, the DMK is working on the same bases it had aimed in the 2011 election---the Vanniyars and Dalits, respectively.

Assembly Polls 2016 Coverage
; TN polls: Parties & numbers  

The DMK's district secretaries have reportedly worked out a 'secret' understanding with the two communities in constituencies in North Tamil Nadu where they face challenge either from the VCK, a constituent in the PWF alliance, or the PMK, which is contesting this year's election alone.

tamil nadu poll 2016

The DMK is eagerly awaiting a three-way split in the votes in the northern districts between itself, the third front and Naam Tamizhar Katchi of S Seeman, which is contesting alone.

The DMK is reviving, on the one hand, the memories of the 2013 Marakkanam riots and 2015 Seshasamudiram clashes in the PMK's stronghold to gain sympathy of the Dalits, who the latter is known to oppose. [TN poll results: 1952-2011]

On the other, the party is raking up the issue of cancellation of the Chithirai festival in the Dalit strongholds and appeal to voters to see the DMK win and VCK lose.

Polarising Dalits and Vanniyars

According to experts, the DMK has understood from its 2011 experience that the PMK, a OBC-based party, and the VCK, a Dalit-based one, do not go together and hence it is trying to polarise both communities to win at the expense of the PMK and VCK. Moreover, the DMK strategists also feel the presence of the VCK in the PWF will turn off the OBC voters from the DMDK, which is leading the alliance.

The PMK perhaps has antagonised the non-Vanniyar OBC voters by fielding Vanniyars throughout Cuddalore and Dharmapuri. The DMK has sensed an opportunity in this and has fielded Vanniyar candidates only where it is required. Elsewhere, it has fielded intermediary castes like the Naidus and Mudaliars.

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