AIADMK's Decision To Not Contest Vikravandi Bypoll Is One More Manifestation Of Party's Continuing Decline

S Rajesh

Jun 18, 2024, 02:25 PM | Updated 02:25 PM IST

The AIADMK is not contesting the Vikravandi bypoll.
The AIADMK is not contesting the Vikravandi bypoll.
  • AIADMK's choice to abstain from contesting the Vikravandi bypoll reflects the party's ongoing decline.
  • The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) recently announced that it would not field a candidate for the bypoll in the Vikravandi assembly constituency scheduled on 10 July. 

    The electoral battle in the constituency is thus between Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's (DMK’s) Anniyur Shiva and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) candidate, C Anbumani. The PMK is a part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

    Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS), the general secretary of AIADMK, stated that the decision was taken because the ruling DMK would go to any extent and use money and muscle power to win the bypoll. 

    He referred to the Erode East bypoll in 2023, in which the ruling party allegedly confined voters to halls to prevent the opposition parties from reaching out to them.

    The BJP too had alleged that the DMK had resorted to malpractices. In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, BJP state president K Annamalai had then written that the DMK was giving voters 2 kilograms of meat and cash.

    The decision was expectedly met with criticism as the AIADMK is the principal opposition party in the state.

    Further, it is not as if the party has done badly in Vikravandi or lacks a good presence in the area. The AIADMK has won the seat in the past, ie, in the 2019 bypoll. It lost the seat in the 2021 assembly election by a relatively small margin of around 9,000 votes. One of its important leaders, C Ve Shanmugam, who is now a member of Rajya Sabha, hails from the area and has represented the nearby Villupuram assembly constituency.

    Even in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, according to assembly constituency wise polling data, the party did not trail the candidate put up by the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) by much in Vikravandi. The difference between the two of them was around 7,000 votes.

    Congress leader P Chidambaram, in a post on X (formerly Twitter), alleged that the decision not to contest the bypoll was due to instructions from the ‘top’ in order to help the NDA candidate win. Further, he said that both the AIADMK and the BJP were fighting elections through a ‘proxy’, ie, PMK.

    Dismissing Chidambaram’s criticism, AIADMK members have stated that this is not the first time that the party has decided to skip bypolls and cited examples from the past.

    Others however said that while the concerns mentioned by Palaniswami are valid, ie, the alleged use of money, food and liquor to influence voters, that in no way means a party as large as the AIADMK should have given up without a fight.

    A stronger AIADMK, they say, would ideally not have shied away from a contest, and would have been eager to prove a point, especially after being beaten badly by the DMK-led alliance in the recent Lok Sabha polls. 

    The party was pushed to the third place in 13 constituencies, finished fourth behind the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) in Kanyakumari and Puducherry and lost its deposit in seven seats.

    It was unable to beat the DMK even in one seat in spite of a lot of anti-incumbency against the government over reasons like corruption and one of the party’s senior leaders, S P Velumani, perceived as the Coimbatore strongman, even came out and said that an AIADMK-BJP alliance would have won 30-35 seats.

    While this remark was later dismissed as a personal opinion of Velumani by the party’s organising secretary D Jayakumar, the fact that a senior leader came out and said that they would have been able to defeat the DMK-led alliance if the alliance with the BJP was intact, itself shows that the party has weakened considerably, and that the loss in the Lok Sabha elections may have only made this decline worse.

    Such a remark would be unimaginable from a party whose members once boasted about doing the BJP a favour by helping it secure seats in Tamil Nadu through an alliance.

    Also Read: How Did The DMK-Led Alliance Win A Clean Sweep In Tamil Nadu In Spite Of Anti-Incumbency And Corruption Allegations?

    S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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