State elections raise interesting points

Rohini Mohan in The Wire – 

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) seems to have pulled off a historic victory in Tamil Nadu.

An election that many experts, pollsters and politicians thought would be a close call has thrown up a decisive mandate, giving the AIADMK a majority win.

The Party’s re-election makes it the first time in 32 years – since the massively popular former chief minister and actor M G Ramachandran (MGR) – that an incumbent party has been voted back.

Several influences

Most pollsters are trying to glean what one factor led to a mass voter decision, but analysts on the ground in Tamil Nadu say that we might be closer to understanding the result if we looked at not one, but several influences.

Several politicians and exit polls went wrong, says political commentator Gnani Sankaran, because they tried to pin a single motive on the voter. Here are some of the strongest factors whose interplay resulted in AIADMK’s victory:

The AIADMK remains the only single party in Tamil Nadu with the largest vote bank share. This comprises an intensely loyal rural voter base, that analyst Stalin Rajangam calls ‘subaltern voter,’ which was mobilised first using the cinematic charisma of the AIADMK founder and three-time chief minister MGR, and then through the many welfare schemes (not always freebies) that favoured the poorest of the poor. Today, the maximum number of local body leaders in rural Tamil Nadu are from the AIADMK; the party has been growing roots in an organised way.

Editor’s Note:

Jayalalithaa, an actor-turned-politician, who is known to nurture larger national political ambitions, said that there was no word in dictionary to describe her feelings.

The victory is truly historic.

The DMK-Congress combine which had hoped to unseat Jayalalithaa had to settle for 97 seats, with the Congress tally getting reduced to just eight.

A solitary seat went to DMK ally, the Indian Union Muslim League.

The Assembly had only 232 seats in the counting list as cash seizures by Election Commission in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur have led to postponement of the counting in those constituencies.

A detailed analysis appears under Communitylink on Page 23.

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