The community, which accounts for over 35 percent of the population, was once considered PMK's vote bank. But the scenario changed after advent of DMDK, floated by actor politician Vijaykant, who weaned away Vanniar youth from PMK.
In the last assembly and Lok Sabha polls, DMDK had garnered a substantial vote bank in this area, leading to defeat of all PMK nominees. PMK, which contested the elections in the company of the AIADMK, has now aligned with ruling DMK.
Though DMDK and PMK will contest directly only in six constituencies -- in north and west, the increasing percentage of votes DMDK has got in the last two polls points to a tough fight in the Vanniar-dominated constituencies.
Despite the popular PMK slogan of ''Vanniar vottu anniyarku alla'' (Vanniars will not vote for candidates of other castes), Vijaykant's maiden win over a PMK candidate from Vridhachalam in the 2006 polls, where Vanniars and Adi-Dravidars are predominant, indicate DMDK is eating into PMK's vote bank.
Interestingly, the same PMK candidate who lost to Vijaykant in 2006 had triumphed in the previous assembly polls against a DMK candidate in 2001. This shows how DMDK has hijacked the vote base in the Vanniar stronghold since 2006.
Vijaykant''s contest from Rishivandhiyam, also in north, this time shows DMDK''s confidence in countering PMK''s influence in the region. Rishivandhiyam voters have favoured a Congress candidate which had PMK in its alliance in the last two elections.
While DMK has allotted 26 of the total of 31 seats to PMK in the northern and western regions, K Malaichamy, former MP of AIADMK asserts, "We (AIADMK) are very strong in the west and we have DMDK in the north." DMDK contests most of its 41 seats from northern and western segments..