FOR MANY, the election story from Tamil Nadu is simple. A victory for the AIADMK and defeat for DMK. But a close look at the recent track record of the DMK reveals that despite losing the closely contested elections, the results — nearly 90 seats in the state assembly, and nearing 100 if ally Congress’s eight are taken into account — actually gives DMK a morale boost after facing a series of electoral setbacks since the 2011 assembly polls.
While the party had won only 23 seats in 2011, coming as it did on the back of a five-year term mired in allegations of corruption, land grabbing and rowdyism, and scams by its central ministers in the UPA regime, the local body elections later that same year also handed a massive defeat to the DMK. The party lost the polls for mayor posts in all 10 corporation of the state, and won very few seats in corporations, municipalities and town panchayats.
Then came the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and another crushing blow. The DMK returned empty-handed, as Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK won 37 of the state’s 39 seats.
But as the results became clear on Thursday, a senior DMK leader told The Indian Express that two advantages of the results are a powerful opposition in the state assembly, and revival of DMK’s vote base. Although the party lost the polls, despite M K Stalin’s nine months of work and multiple statewide tours, DMK leaders see it as a change in favour of their party in a state that has historically backed the winnable party in large strength, leaving the losing party with only a handful of MLAs.
“With this strength in assembly, we will get three Rajya Sabha MPs next month, among the six MPs for Tamil Nadu. We will definitely come back in the local elections in November. And Jayalalithaa won’t escape from a much stronger anti-incumbency wave by the time the next Lok Sabha elections come calling,” the DMK leader said. “Had Stalin not made the effort, we wouldn’t have won so many seats. He will set right the remaining issues as well before the local body elections.”