The blistering campaign for the Tamil Nadu Assembly election and the lone by-election for the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat to be held simultaneously on April 6 came to an end on Sunday.

For the 234-seat Assembly, a total of 3,998 candidates — 3,585 men, 411 women and two transgenders — are in the fray.

In the last election, the AIADMK had no major alliance partner. However, this time, it has the BJP and the PMK as part of its alliance. The DMK alliance with the Congress continues this time too.

As in the past, the main fight this time also will be between the two Dravidian rivals — the AIADMK and the DMK. However, in many constituencies, smaller parties such as the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM); the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), and the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK), could act as spoilers to the main parties, turning it a five-corner fight for many seats. In the 2016 Assembly elections, the AIADMK won 135 seats with 40.77 per cent vote share; the DMK got 88 seats (31.64 per cent); and the Congress 8 seats (6.42 per cent). The PMK with 5.32 per cent vote, the BJP (2.84 per cent) and the DMDK (2.39 per cent) drew a blank.

‘Summer’ campaign

For the last two weeks, political leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, AIADMK’s Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam, DMK’s MK Stalin, Makkal Needhi Maiam’s Kamal Haasan and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam’s TTV Dhinakaran, have sweated it out in the hot summer to woo voters.

For the AIADMK-led alliance, many of the BJP’s star campaigners — Amit Shah, Nirmala Sitharaman, Rajnath Singh, JP Nadda, and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath — were involved in the campaign.

For the DMK-led alliance, Stalin had to sweat it out alone as not many prominent Congress leaders were seen in the campaign. Rahul Gandhi was in the State a couple of times. The campaign was dominated by personal attacks and emotional outbursts with core issues taking a backseat.

Electoral stats

The electorate stands at 6.26 crore, including 3.18 crore women, 3.08 men and over 7,200 persons from the third gender, according to the Election Commission of India.

According to the final rolls, the Shozhinganallur Assembly constituency in Chengalpattu district continues to have the highest number of electors with 6,94,845, while the Harbour Assembly constituency in Chennai continues to have the lowest with 1,76,272 electors.

A total of 47 overseas electors have also been enrolled during Special Summary Revision 2021.

HC slams freebies culture

The freebie culture continues in this election, too, as both the AIADMK and the DMK have been luring voters with various sops. The AIADMK has promised washing machines, six free LPG cylinders per year to every family, a free solar stove and mosquito nets. The DMK has offered tablets with free data to government school and college students, among others.

This freebie culture prompted the Madras High Court to come came down hard on the parties. Whether development is achieved or not, freebies only achieve in creating/inculcating laziness among the people, shattering the work culture of the State. “Consequently, no labour or sufficient labour is available, and no work is done in the State without the imported migrant labourers from other States,” the court observed.

There will be an almost month-long wait, till May 2, to know if the AIADMK performs a second hat-trick and retains power or the DMK returns to power, as is being predicted by all major opinion polls.