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Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | AIADMK posts worst performance in recent years

Party candidates forfeited deposits in seven seats in the elections, continuing the AIADMK’s defeat streak ever since J Jayalalithaa died in 2016. Apart from the BJP and PMK, AIADMK rebels T T V Dhinakaran and O Panneerselvam managed to push the AIADMK to the third slot in Ramanathapuram and Theni.
Last Updated : 05 June 2024, 15:51 IST
Last Updated : 05 June 2024, 15:51 IST

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Chennai: AIADMK, Tamil Nadu’s principal opposition party, has posted one of its worst performances in recent years in the April 19 Lok Sabha polls with the party being relegated to the third slot in 11 constituencies by the BJP, and its allies, and to the fourth position in one seat by Tamil nationalist outfit, Naam Tamizhar Katchi (NTK).

Party candidates forfeited deposits in seven seats in the elections, continuing the AIADMK’s defeat streak ever since J Jayalalithaa died in 2016. Apart from the BJP and PMK, AIADMK rebels T T V Dhinakaran and O Panneerselvam managed to push the AIADMK to the third slot in Ramanathapuram and Theni.

The party garnered 20.46 per cent votes by contesting in 34 constituencies, including two candidates from other parties who entered the fray in the Two Leaves symbol, which is a marginal increase from 19.30 per cent it scored in the 2019 by contesting in just 22 seats. Its ally, DMDK, which lost the Virudhunagar seat by a whisker, scored 2.5 per cent votes, taking the alliance’s combined vote share to 23.05 per cent.

The only consolation is that the party and ally DMDK gave a run for the DMK’s money in five constituencies where the margin was less than 1 lakh.

AIADMK, which exited the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) last year after blaming Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai, kept the expectations low in the 2024 polls though its general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami was credited for running a “good campaign” against the DMK and BJP.

After failing to stitch a formidable alliance, the party fielded only middle-level functionaries in the polls, conserving human and financial resources for the big battle in 2026 when the state will face assembly polls.

The results show the AIADMK was pushed to the third slot by the BJP in Chennai (Central), Chennai (South), Coimbatore, Madurai, Nilgiris, Tirunelveli, Tiruvallur, and Vellore.

PMK candidate Sowmiya Anbumani, Dhinakaran, and Panneerselvam did the honours in Dharmapuri, Theni, and Ramanathapuram. In Kanyakumari, where the AIADMK fielded a DMK turncoat, it was relegated to the fourth position by NTK, whose acceptance among people despite its controversial policies is increasing each election.

In Chennai (South), Kanyakumari, Theni, Puducherry, Tirunelveli, Vellore, and Thoothukudi— the AIADMK candidates forfeited their deposit amounts. One of the biggest setbacks for the AIADMK came from its traditional bastion of Coimbatore, where Annamalai polled 3 lakh votes more than that of the Dravidian party’s Singai G Ramachandran. In 2021 elections, the AIADMK had won all 10 seats in Coimbatore district, ably helped by its local strongman S P Velumani.

The poor performance, though not entirely unexpected, is expected to pose challenges for the leadership especially with the assembly polls less than two years away in the summer of 2026. The party suffered a setback in southern Tamil Nadu with Mukulathors clearly moving away from the AIADMK and a section of Gounders, the caste to which EPS belongs, also shifting towards the BJP.

Though a rebellion is unlikely, EPS is likely to face tough questions over a host of issues, including the decision to snap ties with the BJP, not cobbling up a strong coalition, and his choice of candidates.

Senior journalist Maalan Narayanan told DH that the AIADMK under Palaniswami has failed to impress the electorate with continuous defeats in elections serving as a proof.

“It was a blunder on the part of the AIADMK and BJP to not have forged an alliance. If the present voting pattern is any indication, the AIADMK-BJP alliance would have won over a dozen Lok Sabha seats, which could have sent a strong signal to the DMK ahead of the assembly polls,” Narayanan told DH.

He also blamed Palaniswami for failing to see the advantage of going with the BJP by thinking that minorities, who moved away from the party, will come back. “It is a politically wrong decision, and AIADMK’s loss is a failure of the leadership. The party should introspect why its vote share among women and different castes are eroding. The erosion can be contained only if remedial measures are taken,” the journalist added.

Narayanan also added that the AIADMK should think about stitching an alliance for the 2026 polls and whether it wants to bring PMK, which has a committed vote bank of about five per cent, into its fold from the BJP alliance.

EPS thought the AIADMK walking out of the NDA will help the party court new friends among minorities, especially Muslims. But the ruling DMK’s consistent anti-BJP stand and the sudden implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which wouldn’t have passed the Rajya Sabha test sans the support of 10 AIADMK MPs, have forced minority outfits to keep an arm’s length distance from it.

Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), which is known as the political arm of the banned Popular Front of India (PFI), is the only Muslim outfit to have joined the AIADMK alliance, with even long-time ally, Thamimum Ansari, who touched base with the party after last year, now extending his support to the DMK to “defeat the BJP.”

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Published 05 June 2024, 15:51 IST

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