Cheni, May 18: Just a few more hours and the answers will trickle in. And depending on which way the wind blows on Thursday, it could either be J. Jayalalithaa retaining power or Muthuvel Karunidhi taking over the reins in Tamil du. The state went to polls on May 16 (Monday), and all the parties — notwithstanding what the pundits say — are sounding upbeat. Be it Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK or Karunidhi’s DMK, the rival outfits are claiming they will outsmart the others. Even the PMK of Anbumani Ramadoss is hoping that luck would smile on it, though the party didn’t quite figure in the exit polls. The PMK claimed that it will give a massive jolt to the main Dravidian parties, and surprise everyone. Much ahead of the assembly election, the PMK began its campaign and shed the Vanniyar caste identity by fielding candidates from other communities.
In fact, the party is strong in 122 constituencies across 15 districts with a sizeable support base. “The polling percentage in the constituencies in these districts were high. We feel that besides consolidation of Vanniyar votes, we will be supported by the youths and other segments due to Anbumani Ramadoss factor,” PMK leader K. Dharaju told IANS. “The PMK will jolt others in the 2016 assembly elections,” Dharaju added. But the main Dravidian parties are dismissive of their rivals. “We will win the election again and retain power,” AIADMK spokesperson C.R. Saraswathi told IANS. She said the exit polls that predicted a DMK victory were irrelevant. Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa sought a mandate for another term, saying her government has implemented several welfare schemes like subsidised canteen, cement, bottled water, and medicines, among others. Add to that the freebies doled out — from mixer grinder, laptops to cattle. The AIADMK fielded 227 candidates, leaving seven seats for its allies. But all of them contested with the AIADMK symbol of two leaves. Jayalalithaa promised free mobile phones for all ration card holders, 50 percent subsidy for purchase of scooters by women, free power up to 100 units and the like, if the party retains power. But the DMK hopes that its president M. Karunidhi’s me will help it sail through. The DMK has aligned with the Congress, two Muslim parties and smaller outfits.
Karunidhi had said that the DMDK of actor Vijaykanth and its allies may eat up the vote share of the AIADMK but in the end these parties will not impact the DMK’s prospects. “Our party’s poll promises has reached the people well. On the other hand, the promises made by AIADMK boomeranged. The people are asking why the AIADMK government did not act on these promises in the last five years,” DMK’s former member of Parliament R. Thamaraiselvan told IANS.
Meanwhile, tight security has been put in place for the counting of votes on Thursday, a senior election commission official said. “The counting will start at 8 a.m. on May 19,” Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhoni said.
Elections for the 232 of the total 234 constituencies were held on May 16. The Election Commission postponed elections in Thanjavur and Aravakurichi constituencies after complaints of large-scale distribution of money to voters by various political parties and their candidates. A total of 3,728 candidates are in the fray in these 232 constituencies. (IANS)