Elections 2021

Will TN polls be a close contest?

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on March 29, 2021

Upcoming Assembly election unique in many ways, including absence of charismatic leaders

 

The Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu to be held on April 6 will be unique in many aspects. For the first time, there is the absence of charismatic leaders like M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa. For both Chief Minister aspirants — AIADMK’s Edapaddi K Palaniswami and DMK’s MK Stalin — this will be the first full-fledged election for the State Assembly.

Adding ‘cinematic’ flavour to the election is the entry of actor-turned politician Kamal Haasan’s party Makkam Needhi Maiyam (MNM) in the fray. MNM and the presence of TTV Dhinakaran, the nephew of Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala Natarajan, and his Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam add to the complexity of this election. While these two parties may not win seats, they could act as spoilers by eating into the votes of the two Dravidian parties. This could prove to be costly if the elections turn out to be a close contest, say political experts.

 

For the ruling AIADMK, which has been in power for the last ten years, there is no major anti-incumbency. Industrial activity in the State has been good with steady flow of FDI into the State. It has done well to announce many welfare measures to pamper the electorate and, most importantly, there have been no significant corruption charges against it. It is, however, not clear what impact the runaway fuel and cooking gas price will have on the poll outcome.

BJP factor

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the presence of the BJP affected the ruling party’s chances. “I am afraid the BJP may end up playing the spoiler again. That’s the difference between this and 2016 Assembly election. Not once in the past Assembly elections did the ruling party at the Centre become a poll issue, not even when the Centre dismissed elected State governments on four occasions,” says N Sathiyamoorthy, a political analyst.

While opinion polls point to a DMK victory, the issue of dynasty politics and it being seen as an anti-Hindu party haunt it. It is unclear if these sentiments could cost the party enough votes for it to lose the elections. Like in the Lok Sabha, the Congress is piggybacking on the DMK for a victory in the Assembly elections.

Having failed to win a seat in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP is trying hard to open its account in the State Assembly. With Tamil Nadu BJP president L Murugan’s successful ‘Vel’ yatra, the party is hoping that there is a Hindu resurgence, and the party could benefit from this. The party is banking on its heavyweight campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, to woo voters in the State.

“Contrary to all predictions Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections 2021 are in for a nail-biting finish. With @CMOTamilNadu leading from the front along with Sri O Panneerselvam & alliance partners @BJP4TamilNadu & PMK , it’s advantage @AIADMKOfficial in the last week,” says a tweet by BL Santosh, National General Secretary (Org) of the BJP.

Opinion polls

And, adding to the poll dynamics in the last week of the election, DMK leader A Raja’s remark against EPS has come under sharp attack from all sections of society. Raja’s remark has also given the AIADMK-led alliance the much-required last-minute boost to up the ante against the DMK, and its leaders for using foul language.

While Stalin told his cadres not to make indecent remarks, EPS, during a campaign in the city, broke down and hit back at A Raja, saying his remarks insult the common man’s rise to become CM. Citizens must punish A Raja for his ‘chauvinist’ remarks, said EPS.

In 2016, the State reported 74.81 per cent voter turnout. However, with the second wave of coronavirus looming large, the turnout could be hit, say political analysts.

Almost all opinion polls have predicted a DMK victory, the party has Prashanth Kishore as its political strategist. On May 2, it will be known if Karunanidhi’s dream of making his son Stalin CM gets fulfilled or ‘stop gap’ chief minister EPS continues to stay in control of the State and helps AIADMK achieve yet another hat-trick, like MGR did in the 1980s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published on March 29, 2021

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