Chennai:The Tamil Nadu Assembly elections has always seen a two-titan race for over four decades, having both the AIADMK and the DMK being the major participants.
But in the April six Assembly polls the Dravidian majors can hardly look the other way even as the smaller parties have started flexing their muscles. Of course, a modern version of the legendary David-Goliath face-off is not possible for now. But small parties do not go down on all their fours before either the ruling party or the opposition.
TTV Dinakaran’s AMMK aligning with Vijayakanth’s DMDK, Seeman’s Naam Tamilar Katchi and actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s MakkalNeedhiMaiyam, allying with another actor Sarathkumar’s All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi, are now in the electoral race, very much in the limelight.
In fact, they are majors among the minors, slowly itching ahead in consolidating their votebanks and fraught with potential of titling the scales either way--favouring the AIADMK or the DMK. This has already been driven home back in 2019 Lok Sabha elections and in 2016 Assembly polls.
A psephological study will make for a convincing point.In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the DMK front recorded 52 percentage of votes polled, winning 38 seats and leaving only one to the AIADMK.The partywise break-up is: DMK got 33.18 per cent, its allies Congress 12.92 per cent, the two Communist parties together 4.87 per cent and VCK 1.2 per cent.
Whereas the AIADMK front had registered 30.9 percentage with the break-up being AIADMK 18.72 per cent, PMK 5.49 per cent, BJP 3.66 per cent, and DMDK 2.22 per cent.The smaller parties, away from the two Dravidan fronts, had recorded votes as follows: AMMK 5.13 per cent, NTK 3.93 per cent, MNM 3.77 per cent and 1.29 per cent under NOTA.
Clubbing together all these figures, the total percentagewas over 14.12 per cent.The inference is that the AIADMK could have bridged the 11.1 per cent gap in voting between itself and the
triumphant DMK and won the election if only the ruling party had allied with the so-called smaller parties whose combined voting percentage was 13 (excluding the NOTA percentage).
So, the smaller parties played a major role in playing spoilsport with the AIADMK’s chances in the 2019 LokSabha elections.
Earlier, in the 2016 Assembly polls, they ensured the defeat of the DMK by a narrow margin when the Dravidian giants--M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa--were alive. At that time, there was a third front in People’s Welfare Alliance (PWA) with a motive of sounding the death-knell for the decades-old Dravidian rule in Tamil Nadu.
The PWA consisted of six well-known parties: MDMK (Vaiko), DMDK (Vijayakanth), two Communist parties, Tamil Maanila Congress (GK Vasan) and VCK (ThirumaValavan). Also in the fray were PMK, BJP (aligning with IJK) and Seeman’s NTK separately outside the three Fronts.
Despite the 2015 deluge that turned Chennai upside down and the charges that the Jayalalithaa-led government had not performed well in dealing with natural disaster, the
AIADMK romped home to victory for the second time in 2016, recording 40.88 percentage of votes while the DMK garnered 31.39.
So, by a margin of 9.49 percentage, the DMK missed the bus. Following is the voting percentage data of smaller parties: PWA - 6.1, PMK: 5.36, BJP 2.86, and NTK 1.07. So, the reason why the DMK failed to capture power despite favorable surveys and high hopes can’t go unnoticed. Had the DMK successfully wooed Vijayakanth, Vaiko, ThirumaValavan,
Vasan and leaders of Communist parties and other smaller parties such as NTK, he could have stolen the thunder out of Jayalalithaa’s sails.In fact, the so-called third front, which, however, turned a damp squib, was a blessing in disguise for Jayalalithaa as it turned a spoiler for the DMK’s arithmetic game.
According to sources, in the present elections, the 2018 May 22 police firing at Thoothukudi over Sterlite issue, the Pollachi sexual harassment case and splitting of community votes thanks to Dinakaran may threaten the prospects of AIADMK.
For the DMK, dynastic rule, resentment among party seniors over the emergence of DMK President M K Stalin's son Udhayanidhi Stalin and land-grabbing charges (during its
2006-11 reign)will be major minus points.
However, the common threat to both Dravidian majors is the emergence of smaller parties as they can eat into their traditional votebanks, thanks to the new demographic profile of the tech-savvy youth.
For now, they can’t be pooh-poohed as smaller parties. After all, the DMK too was a smaller party back in 1950s, which later unseated the strongly entrenched grand oldparty Congress.