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DMK-Cong front sweeps TN, Pondy
The wave is comparable to the tide against the AIADMK in the 1996 polls which swept Ms Jayalalitha out of power in an overwhelming rejection of the AIADMK.
Riding the crest of a wave of anger against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalitha, the Democratic Progressive Alliance of the DMK, Congress and other major parties has made a clean sweep of all the 39 seats in the just concluded Lok Sabha elections. It also won the lone seat in the Congress-ruled Union Territory of Pondicherry.
This is the second time the AIADMK has received such a sound drubbing since its inception in 1972. Even in 1980, when the DMK-Congress alliance swept the polls, the AIADMK under its founder MGR managed to get two seats. The present wave is comparable to the tide against the AIADMK in the simultaneous elections to the State Assembly and the Lok Sabha in 1996 which swept Ms Jayalalitha out of power and led to the near-total rejection of the AIADMK and the Congress.
The Democratic Progressive Alliance, in which the Pattali Makkal Katchi, the Marumalarchi DMK, the two left parties and the Indian Union Muslim League are also partners, dealt a decisive blow to the AIADMK-BJP front in all the 40 constituencies in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.
Prominent winners are former ministers in the Vajpayee government, T R Baalu and A Raja from South Chennai and Perambalur and A K Murthi and Gingee Ramachandran of the Pattali Makkal Katchi and the Marumalarchi DMK from Chengalpattu and Vandavasi.
Also among the winners are late Union Minister Murasoli Maran’s son Dayanidhi Maran in Central Chennai, All India Congress Committee General Secretary and sitting member Mani Shankar Iyer in Mayiladuthurai, former TNCC presidents E V K S Elangovan and K V Thangabalu in Gobichettipalayam and Salem, former minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government R Prabhu in Nilgiris, Congress Jananayaka Peravai leader P Chidambaram who contested on the Congress symbol in Sivaganga, former TMC Minister in the UF Government Danushkodi Adithan from Tiruchendur and Indian Union Muslim League State president Khader Mohideen from Vellore.
A striking feature is that the victory margins range from one lakh plus to over two lakh votes.
The Congress has won all the 10 seats it contested from Tamil Nadu, against three it secured in 1999, including Pondicherry. The DMK has won 15, the PMK six, the MDMK four, the CPI and the CPM two each and the Indian Union Muslim League one.
The PMK’s tally includes the lone Pondy seat where Prof M Ramadas (not related to PMK founder S Ramadoss) has trounced BJP’s Lalitha Kumaramangalam. Though Pondicherry has been a traditional Congress seat, the high command made the rebellious local unit fall in line and support the PMK in the larger interest of protecting the alliance in Tamil Nadu where its stakes are higher.
The results have been in keeping with the opinion and exit polls. But even the most conservative of pollsters did not fully gauge the people’s anger in Tamil Nadu and predict a total rout for the AIADMK-BJP combine. The AIADMK contested 33 seats and the BJP 11, including Pondicherry.
The BJP has lost even the three seats it won in 1999 — Coimbatore, Nagercoil and Nilgiris. Among the prominent losers was the state unit president and sitting member C P Radhakrishnan from Coimbatore and Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan from Nagercoil. Mr Radhakrishnan lost to Mr C Subbarayan (CPI) and Mr Pon Radhakrishnan to Mr Bellarmine (CPM). In Nilgiris, two-time member Master Mathan lost to former minister and senior Congress leader R Prabhu.
So complete is the rout of the AIADMK-BJP front that even the most powerful of AIADMK candidates and sitting member, T T V Dinakaran, nephew of Ms Jayalalitha’s close aide Sasikala Natarajan, lost to Congress minorities cell leader J M Haroon in Periakulam.
There were scenes of jubilation in Arivalayam and Sathyamurthi Bhavan, headquarters of the DMK and the Congress with workers dancing and bursting crackers.
Talking to reporters after distributing sweets to celebrating workers, TNCC president G K Vasan demanded the resignation of the Jayalalitha government on moral grounds.
However, senior DMK leader and deputy leader in the Assembly Durai Murugan told a television channel that he did not expect such high standards of probity from Ms Jayalalitha who resorted to an ugly campaign against Congress President Sonia Gandhi and other leaders of the DPA.
In a more sober reaction, DMK President M Karunanidhi said it was a verdict against the “autocratic rule” of the Jayalalitha government over the last three years.
Mr Karunanidhi has called a meeting of the DPA on May 15. He has also called a meeting of the DMK executive the same evening, in which the newly elected MPs are expected to take part.
The anti-incumbency wave in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which together account for 81 seats and where the BJP aligned with the ruling Telugu Desam Party and the AIAMDK, has tilted the scales in favour of the Congress and enabled it to edge the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance out of the race for power.
While all the allies of the Congress in Tamil Nadu have extended unequivocal support to Ms Sonia Gandhi’s candidature for the prime ministership, DMK President M Karunanidhi has already made it clear that his party will extend outside support to a Congress-led government. Marumalarchi DMK leader Vaiko, who opted out of the elections, has also made it known that his party will extend outside support to a secular government.
The decision of the DMK and the MDMK should not pose a threat to the stability of the government the Congress is expected to form with the help of its other allies and the Left parties. The DMK has fashioned this alliance with an eye on the 2006 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and it will, therefore, not upset the applecart — at least not in the near term.