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Absence of wave makes TN assembly poll an interesting contest

Written by: Staff
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Madurai, Tamil Nadu, Mar 26 (UNI) Absence of a wave favouring either the ruling AIADMK-led Democratic People's Front(DPF) or the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance(DPA), determined to unseat the former from power, makes the May eight Assembly election in Tamil Nadu an interesting contest, forcing both the combines to dig their resources deep to fight it out.

Major parties are yet to launch their election campaigns and the leaders are still to kick up the dust this summer but this cannot explain away the non-existence of a wave, a striking feature, very much apparent everywhere.

This is in stark contrast to the last Lok Sabha elections, in which the AIADMK drew a blank in all the 39 constituencies in the state, besides losing the lone seat in adjoining Pondicherry.

Much water has flowed down the river since then, effecting a perceptible change on the ground, turning the battle, which political analysts admit, into a challenge and not a mere repeat of 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

Unlike last time, AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa has consolidated herself to take on the opposition by successfully hooking the MDMK of Vaiko and the Dalit outfit, DPI of Thol Thirumavalavan, to cobble up the DPF.

Both the fronts had completed the arduous task of seat-sharing and released the list of constituencies, 43 days ahead of polling.

In the DPA, seat allocation has only fuelled heartburn among the constituents, with a discernible lack of enthusiasm among the district-level functionaries, as well as workers. It is more pronounced in the nine southern districts.

It was a huge disappointment for the DMK in Madurai and elsewhere in the South, admitted a senior DMK functionary. The DMK opting to contest in only one of the four constituencies in Madurai city, has shocked many in the party, and those entertaining hopes of securing a ticket.

Allotting suburban Thiruparankundram to the Marxists has not gone down well with the workers of both the parties. Similar is the case in many districts with irate Congressmen taking it to the streets.

Interestingly, the DMK, giving credence to the notion that it is on the wane in Southern Tamil Nadu, considered to be an AIADMK stronghold, is in the fray in only 36 seats in this region, whereas the latter is contesting in 50 constituencies. The present allocation, which failed to take into account local factors exhibits nothing but 'arrogance' and misplaced confidence about the strength of the 'formidable six-party' alliance, regret local functionaries.

While the MDMK is expected to provide the AIADMK the winning edge in South and a few pockets in North, actor-turned politicians Vijaykant, with his fledgling 'Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam' (DMDK) having a considerable mass base, and M Karthik, heading the State unit of the All India Forward Bloc(AIFB), seem to have the potential to play spoilsport.

According to analysts, the mass base of both the actors is in no way different from that of the AIADMK. While Mr Karthik, remains a thorn in the flesh, upsetting the caste equations of the ruling establishment in the 'Thevar heartland', Vijaykant extends the geographical boundaries and speaks the 'language' of both MGR and that of the Congress.

Mr Vijaykant also cuts into the vote bank of another dominant backward Naidu community, thus far supporting Vaiko, it is pointed out.

Resentment is also there among the Thevars against the AIADMK for allotting nine seats to the DPI, disregarding the claims of Mr Karthik as well as many Thevar outfits for a place in the alliance. Interactions with a cross-section of people also revealed that the gain in the north accruing because of the DPI, could possibly get neutralised in the south.

Mr Vijaykant is all set to plough a lone furrow, so is Mr Karthik, who was more than eager to get into the AIADMK front. They have added some colour to the otherwise dull election scene so far, with the former nearly completing a statewide tour, travelling to every nook and corner by dusty roads.

Despite the large turnout of crowds at Mr Vijaykant's roadshows, widespread skepticism retains as to whether this would actually translate into votes. Moreover, the biggest handicap for the film star is the absence of a strong party structure, capable of converting his popularity into a tangible vote bank.

The Puthiya Thamizhagam(PT), led by Dalit leader Dr K Krishnasamy, unable to find a berth in either of the alliances, is all set to fight it alone in about 150 constituencies, adding to the fragmentation of votes.

Likewise, left alone to swim the tide, is the BJP, having base in specific areas of Kanniyakumari district.

Amidst all this, the behaviour of the 'committed' Congress voter, would determine to a certain extent, the outcome. Though the party is in the DPA, skeptics argue that the Congress voter, having a natural inclination for the AIADMK in the Assembly elections, could not be taken for granted.

They point out the 1980 fiasco when the late Indira Gandhi teamed up with the DMK after the emergency only to lose miserably at the hustings.

Since crucial electoral battles of the recent past in the state have not been without a wave, the current contest presents a peculiar situation. Right from Indira Gandhi's assassination to Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, the results have been a harvest of waves.

In this scenario, disintegration of the polity, as reinforced by the emergence and consolidation of smaller parties, could spring a surprise in the form of a hung assembly. Though it might seem to be a wishful thinking, Moween (39), a taxi driver, said the situation was ripe for a coalition experiment, an idea gaining ground among a sizeable section of the voters.

UNI

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