DMK wins Vellore seat; increase its LS tally to 24

Continuing its winning streak, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Friday wrested the Vellore Lok Sabha seat from arch-rival AIADMK. AFP Photo

Continuing its winning streak, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Friday wrested the Vellore Lok Sabha seat from arch-rival AIADMK, though the victory margin was narrow when compared to the huge win that the party-led alliance registered in the General Elections held in April.

D M Kathir Anand, the DMK candidate and son of party treasurer Durai Murugan, won by a margin of 8,141 votes against AIADMK rival A C Shanmugham, after a see-saw battle through the seven hours of counting of votes that began at 8 am.

While Shanmugham established a lead in the initial rounds, Kathir picked up momentum later, but the margin between the rivals kept fluctuating till the last round, leading to anxious moments among the cadre of both Dravidian parties.

Kathir’s victory has increased the DMK’s tally in Lok Sabha to 24, while the AIADMK would continue to be represented by its lone MP, O P Ravindranath. At the end of counting, Kathir polled 4,85,340 votes against Shanmugam’s 4,77,199 votes. Deepa Lakshmi of Tamil nationalist outfit, Naam Tamizhar, polled 26,995 votes.

The reduced margin of victory, that too in a Muslim-dominated constituency, is certainly a cause of concern for the DMK, which swept the April 18 Lok Sabha polls by winning 38 of the 39 seats, including Puducherry. Elections to Vellore were rescinded following the seizure of more than Rs 11 crore from persons close to the DMK candidate.

The victory margin with which Kathir romped home was less than the votes registered for NOTA (None of the Above). DMK and its alliance candidates had won by margins of above 1 lakh votes in almost every constituency in the April polls.

The AIADMK, which had fielded almost the entire cabinet and a battery of senior leaders in Vellore, improved its performance by polling more than 46 per cent of votes and gave a tough fight to its arch-rival, DMK. The ruling party also kept the BJP away from election campaign this time and the performance would certainly boost the morale of the AIADMK cadre, political analysts say, as they were upset with the party’s worst defeat in April.

They said the DMK has to dwell deep into the results to reflect on what went wrong in just two months after the historic victory in the Lok Sabha elections, bucking the national trend that saw BJP romping back with an increased majority in the Lower House of Parliament.

While the DMK may have to sweat it out in the run-up to the 2021 assembly polls, the challenge for the AIADMK is from within: it would come under pressure from its cadre to revert back to singular leadership in favour of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami by dumping the current arrangement of dual leadership.

Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam are currently leading the AIADMK jointly but the cold war between has resulted in contradictions in the party stand on various issues and confusion among the cadre.

VELLORE:

D M Kathir Anand: 4,85,340

A C Shanmugam: 4,77,199

Margin of victory: 8,141

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