Chennai has always been a DMK bastion, both in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. In the 2019 elections, it won all three Parliamentary constituencies: Chennai South, Chennai North, and Chennai Central. The winning streak continued in 2021 when the party swept the Assembly elections (the city has a total of 16 constituencies) by winning all the 15 that it contested in the city and its ally, Congress, winning one.

Can the DMK continue its winning streak in Chennai in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections, which is to be held in the State on April 19? While the party may find it easy in Chennai South and Chennai Central, it may find it difficult in Chennai North, which bore the brunt of the December rains. There is also an anti-incumbency factor, say political analysts.

DMK leader and former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran has represented the Chennai Central constituency for three terms in the Lok Sabha. In the 2004 and 2009 elections, he won, but lost in 2014. He bounced back strongly in 2019. In the coming elections, Maran will take on BJP’s Vinoj P Selvam, who unsuccessfully contested from the Harbour constituency in the last Assembly elections.

DMK’s Kalanidhi Veeraswamy, who won the Chennai North seat in 2019, will once again fight it out from the same constituency, taking on AIADMK heavyweight Royapuram Manoharan. The BJP has fielded RC Paul Kanagaraj, an advocate and the party’s State Vice President.

In Chennai South, DMK MP T Sumathi, also known as Thamizhachi Thangapandian, will take on former Telangana Governor and BJP State President Tamilisai Soundararajan, who recently resigned as Governor to re-join the saffron party. The AIADMK has fielded former MP J Jayavardhan, who won from here in 2014. 

Major issues

Chennai South, which has several employees working in the IT sector, has been repeatedly facing problems like flooding and power shortages; these two issues could have a major influence on the voters this time.

Sumanth Raman, a political analyst, said it is very likely that the DMK will win all the three seats in Chennai again. However, Chennai North could see a tough fight as it was most affected by the December floods and there is anti-incumbency there, and the DMK could face some headwinds. Also, the corruption allegations and arrests of Ministers have dented the ruling party’s image, he said. Royapuram Manoharan could give Kalanidhi a fight in Chennai North, he added.

In Chennai Central, it is a no contest. In Chennai South, also, the DMK has an edge due to the split in the opposition votes. The situation in Chennai South during the floods in December 2023 was not as bad as in 2015. This time, Chennai North was affected more while south Chennai bounced back faster, he said.

The DMK has an edge in all the three constituencies in Chennai, but its vote share may see a decline, says Ramu Manivannan, a political analyst. The floods in December will have a significant impact on the DMK this time, he added. In the previous elections, both the BJP and the AIADMK were alliance partners. However, this time they are fighting against each other. The vote split will only help the DMK, said Manivannan.

In Chennai Central, Maran is in a safe constituency. However, considering that Selvam is a foot soldier, he can garner votes, he said. The large number of Brahmin voters in Chennai South could vote in favour of the BJP, but it may not have a major impact on the DMK, he said.