Vijayakant may play spoilerMay 12th, 2009 | By Elections2009 | Category: States
DMDK may not win any seats, but it is likely to cut into the votes of the AIADMK
In a State where electoral arithmetic matters hugely, the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), headed by film actor Vijayakant, is testing the political waters once again by going it alone in the Lok Sabha election.
Though it appears that the party will not win any seat, the DMDK is expected to get a substantial number of votes in most constituencies. Against the backdrop of Mr. Vijayakant’s consistent attacks on the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government in the last three years, the DMDK’s presence in the electoral fray is likely to cut into votes of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the principal Opposition party in the State. This is more so, as all the parties in the State are fighting the Lok Sabha elections essentially on local issues.
DMDK chief Vijayakanth addressing a meeting at Pennagaram. Photo: N. Bashkaran
After its debut in the 2006 Assembly election, when the party got 8.33 per cent of the total vote, the DMDK came to be taken seriously. The election of Mr. Vijayakant from the Vriddhachalam Assembly constituency surprised many, as he emerged victorious in a region that has been a stronghold of the Pattali Makkal Katchi. The party’s performance in the local body elections in October 2006 and in a couple of Assembly by-elections was not insignificant either. Some middle-rung leaders from other parties joined the DMDK in the last two to three years. But the way the DMDK candidate forfeited his deposit in the Thirumangalam Assembly by-election in January did shock the party.
Most leaders who came from other parties have left the DMDK, returning to their parent parties. Around the time the election schedule was announced, there was widespread speculation that the party would join hands with either of the major parties in the State but Mr. Vijayakant eventually decided to fight alone. Having projected itself as an alternative to the DMK and AIADMK, the DMDK did not want to disturb its core base.
Instead, it decided to strengthen its following, using the opportunity given by the Lok Sabha election, says Panruti S. Ramachandran, presidium chairman of the DMDK.
Despite the political setbacks in recent times, Mr. Vijayakant is still a draw, especially among rural voters. Conscious of the fact that the AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran built his party base on the basis of his pro-poor image, the DMDK founder too is seeking to secure support from the economically lower-strata of society in which the party has succeeded to certain extent. Among the youth [those below 30] who constitute the base are the Dalits.
Unlike the PMK, whose following is concentrated in a geographically contiguous belt, the DMDK’s supporters are thinly spread — in pockets of the northern and southern districts of the State, including Vellore, Madurai, Virudhunagar and Tuticorin. Reports indicate that the party’s nominees in parts of the central region such as Tiruchi and Perambalur have campaigned vigorously.
Though the DMDK hopes to improve its vote base in the election, there is a view that people would not like to waste their vote, by supporting the party. The performance of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in the 1996 and 2001 Assembly elections is a pointer.