Tamil Nadu politics has been dominated by Dravidian parties for nearly five decades. During this time span, the state witnessed numerous bipolar contests between All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Jayalalitha led AIADMK has done quite well in last couple of elections. Its performance can be termed spectacular in the last parliamentary election held in 2014. The party had garnered about 44.3 percent vote share in the election. The party won 37 out of 39 lok sabha seats in the elections. Two seats had gone to the NDA. Another strong block DMK alliance could not win a single seat.
However, situation seems to be different in this assembly election. Popularity of the present government is on decline following the Tamil Nadu floods. Many people feel that inept handling of the situation during the flood and poor management of relief operations after the flood has left the people in the state disillusioned towards present regime. DMK is not looking as strong as it used to be.
In such a situation, small regional parties are flexing their muscles and trying to provide a serious alternative. In this attempt, Vijayakant led Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) has tied up with People Welfare Front (PWF). The alliance has the capacity of pose serious threat to the big two parties. Alliance has decided to project Vijayakant as Chief Ministerial candidate. PWF is a front comprising of MDMK, CPI, CPM and VCK. Vaiko of MDMK was the prime negotiator of the deal. PMK, a strong regional party PMK led by Ramadoss, has decided to fight the assembly elections alone. Another important party BJP, which could manage 5.56 percent vote share in 2014 parliamentary elections, is also left alone in this election.
Let us see how strong DMDK- PWF alliance is. In the last assembly elections held in 2011, DMDK had captured approximately 8 percent vote share. Among the constituents of PWF, CPI had got 2 percent vote share whereas CPM and VCK had won 2.4 and 1.5 percent vote share respectively. Another important component MDMK did not contest the polls. However, in 2006 assembly elections, the party had won approximately 6 percent vote share. So, in totality, the alliance is sitting on approximately 20 percent vote share.
If the alliance is able to leverage its strength, it can do much better this time. There is a general perception that DMK will not be able to cash in on the declining popularity of the present government. DMDK- PWF alliance is trying hard to grab this opportunity. Vijayakant is quite popular in the state and he has good influence on Telgu-Naidu community, dalit arunthathiyars and OBCs of central and western Tamil Nadu. His progressive, pro-development image is making him popular among the youth. VCK has strong base among dalits. CPI and CPM have got strongholds in central and southern Tamil Nadu. Vaiko of MDMK has his own set of strengths. He is a good orator and has been able to project the alliance as an alternative to AIADMK and DMK.
All these situations are making the Tamil Nadu elections very interesting. DMK-Congress alliance is leaving no stone unturned in attempt to cash in on anti-incumbency factor. Some high voltage drama on accusations and counter accusations are on. New equations will emerge and parties will step up aggressive campaigns as the election approaches.