Can the AIADMK pull off a second hat trick, analysts weigh in

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on March 23, 2021

Can the ruling AIADMK under the leadership of Edappadi K Palaniswami score a second hat-trick after the party under the charismatic MG Ramachandran (MGR) achieved the first by winning consecutive elections in 1977, 1980 and 1984?

MGR is the only leader in the State to achieve a hat-trick in election win after the AIADMK swept to power in 1977, defeating the DMK. He remained in power until his death on December 24, 1987.

The party under late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa won two successive elections in 2011 and 2016. After her demise, O Paneerselvam became Chief Minister for three months before EPS took over in February 2017 and has consolidated his position in the party. However, EPS is a Chief Minister by default, not an elected one, pointed out a political expert.

For the AIADMK, the advantages are an absence of a major anti-incumbency sentiment; there have been no major corruption charges or complaints against the government.

Being so, what could possibly go against the ruling party?

N Sathiyamoorthy, a political analyst, says, AIADMK’s alliance with the ruling BJP at the Centre remains the DMK’s main hope, if at all. It is about consolidation of minorities and other anti-Hindutva votes as was witnessed in the Lok Sabha elections. It is also economic issues such as demonetisation and GST-centric job and income losses.

Concerns of a second Covid phase could upset the mood even of investors. Such apprehensions can have a cascading effect on the voter. So will common perceptions about wanton denial of bank and Central jobs for Tamils.

“But packaging old wine in a new bottle too is not going to be easy for DMK,” he said.

Another political analyst P Ramajayam says, forms of anti-incumbency have been changing because the old forms of conventional protests are controlled one or the other way. The voting behaviour is based on what is delivered as socio-economic welfare and the policies that have affected adversely. AIADMK’s ten years rule and its internal tussles are also a major issue, he adds.

Leadership counts, says S Raveendran Thuraiswamy, a political analyst. Kamal Haasan, Seeman and TTV Dhinakaran took away 12 per cent of AIADMK’s votes. The PMK negativity and BJP negativity earned 10 per cent votes to the DMK, he adds.

In the 2016 Assembly elections, the AIADMK won the election then with 40.77 per cent vote share and winning 135 seats; the DMK - 31.64 per cent (88 seats); Congress - 6.42 per cent (8 seats); the rest drew a blank in terms of seats but the percentage vote share was PMK - 5.32; BJP - 2.84 and the DMDK - 2.39.

On May 2, it will be known if the AIADMK scores a second hat-trick or the DMK wrests power, as is being predicted by all major opinion polls.

Published on March 23, 2021

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