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.

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