Club of minnows too in running for TN House

Club of minnows too in running for TN House

By sunset they will know whether one of the two major Dravidian fronts or a surprise post-result patchwork of fragments will rule them.

The crucial counting of votes for the 234-member Assembly begins at 8 am. While any sweep for either the AIADMK-led alliance or the DMK-front would possibly be indicated by noon – counting of the electronically recorded votes in the EVMs will take a little longer this time as simultaneous counting of several rounds has been given up - leaders in both camps are quite nervous about the possibility of a hung Assembly too.

There are several reasons for this heightened counting day-eve nerves. First, though the ballot battle is mainly between the AIADMK and DMK-led fronts with 11 parties and 8 parties in each respectively, there are other political players who could cut into traditional consolidations. Also, nearly 30 lakh first-time youth voters have cast their ballots. 

It is mind-boggling to realise that there are technically five fronts in all in the fray this time, pointing to a serious fragmentation of the polity in the long-run. The BJP, as its leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj put it in her Tamil Nadu poll campaign, is a ‘serious player’ this time in the state. The party is leading a ‘third front,’ with BJP alone contesting 194 seats, the Janata Party led by Subramaniyam Swamy ten seats and the JD(U) five. The BJP-led front is thus contesting 209 of the 234 seats.

Dalit stake

Even as ‘Dalit parties’ are contesting under multiple banners this time – ‘Puratchi Baratham’ which was with DMK last time has contested 40 seats on its own now and Ambedkar People’s Movement in another 53 seats -- these may result in four-way or five-way split of the Dalit votes, say political observers. Mayawati’s BSP is also on its own in all 234 seats.

Another interesting sidelight is a new party in the political landscape. The Indiya Jananayaka Katchi, formed by an educationist-turned-politician, T R Pachamuthu, has forged a ‘Fifth Front’ of sorts, with two other smaller Dalit parties. One of them is led by the outspoken former IAS woman officer P Sivakami. The IJK-led front is testing the waters in about 150 constituencies.

Despite this multiplicity of political fronts and parties, various post-poll surveys by television channels have by and large given the thumbs up to the Jayalalitha-led AIADMK front. They reflect a thirst for change among the masses, a fallout of the 2G scam which she very effectively focused on, the add-on effect of actor Vijayakant’s DMDK, and anti-incumbency factors like the severe power crisis and inflation that have put the DMK in the dock.

DMK chief M Karunanidhi, with the Congress, PMK, VCK and Kongu Nadu Munnetra Kazhagam, is hopeful of a comfortable victory just on the DMK’s performance.