Absence of strong local-level leadership to steer the party and galvanize the workers apparently dented its vote bank
The total washout of the AIADMK in Tiruchi district, which was for long the party’s fortress, has caused disbelief among political observers.
Out of nine constituencies, the DMK spared none to the AIADMK, which had held its sway in at least six rural constituencies for decades. The major cause for disappointment among AIADMK workers is the victory of DMK candidates with massive vote margins in some of the constituencies in Tiruchi as well as Karur, Ariyalur and Perambalur districts.
While the DMK chose to field its candidates in seven of the nine constituencies in Tiruchi, leaving two to its allies, Chrishthuva Nallenna Iyakkam (CNI) and the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK), the AIADMK contested in eight seats, leaving one to its ally, the TMC.
Allotted to allies
There was skepticism among the rank and file of the DMK when Tiruchi (East) and Manapparai constituencies were allotted to its allies.
The candidates, Abdul Samad of the MMK and Inigo Irudhayaraj of the CNI, both were outsiders to their respective constituencies, and had to work overtime to win over the confidence of the DMK workers. But the AIADMK candidates failed to capitalise the outsider’s tag and their unfamiliarity.
AIADMK (Tiruchi urban) secretary Vellamandi N. Natarajan faced a humiliating defeat at the hands of Mr. Irudhayaraj, a novice to electoral battle, with a whopping margin of 53,797 votes in Tiruchi (East) constituency.
DMK heavyweight K.N. Nehru romped home with a margin of 80,927 votes against V. Padmanathan of the AIADMK. Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi, who contested in Thiruverumbur, too managed to defeat his nearest rival, P. Kumar of the AIADMK, close to the margin of 50,000 votes.
Out of nine constituencies, Srirangam, Manapparai, Musiri, Mannachanallur and Thuraiyur had been the traditional strongholds of the AIADMK. Since 1991, it has not tasted whitewash in the district except in 1996. Many feel it is the worst performances of the party in the region since inception.
Indications are that Mutharaiyars, a dominant caste in the rural segments of the district, did not reinforce their faith in the AIADMK.
The absence of a strong local-level leadership to steer the party and galvanize the workers to convince the voters about performance of the government had apparently dented the AIADMK vote bank. Lack of clear understanding among the workers on executing the “macro and micro” plan of the party leadership, infighting and improper candidate selection were also the factors for the debacle of the AIADMK.
On the other hand, Mr. Nehru, who played a key role in ensuring the victory of all 14 panchayat unions in the local body elections played his trump card again to make strong inroad in the AIADMK bastions.
“After the demise of Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK appears to have given room for the emergence of lobbyists at the regional level, who in turn groom followers and groups. Party tickets were given to their loyalists. It is one of the main reasons for the washout of the AIADMK in Tiruchi,” says a party veteran and a former Minister.
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