Tirunelveli: Going by previous election results, the Nanguneri by-election is going to be a tough fight between the Congress and the AIADMK that won in this constituency in six and five assembly elections respectively in the 15 assembly elections that Nanguneri constituency faced since 1952. The AIADMK had three of its victories in this constituency during the elections held in 1984, 1991 and 2001, when it was in an alliance with the Congress. In 1996 despite its alliance with the Congress, the AIADMK lost Nanguneri to the DMK.
Nanguneri is expected to go with the national sentiment and has favoured the Indian National Congress in most elections. Despite the DMK being the strongest regional party in 1977, it could not reap the benefits of the anti-emergency sentiment against Indira Gandhi at Nanguneri as the Nanguneri electorate had another national party, the Janata Party as their choice. Even in the 1996 assembly elections when the DMK enjoyed good public support due to the anti-Jayalalithaa factor, the DMK pushed the Nanguneri constituency to one of its allies, the Communist Party of India (CPI), whose candidate, S V Krishnan won in that election.
“It is because of this basic nationalist leaning of the Nanguneri electorate that the DMK is reluctant to contest directly in this constituency,” opines Sivaji Muthukumar, a local Congressman who threatened to hold a fast when some DMK leaders claimed their right to contest in the Nanguneri by-election before it was officially declared.
The DMK, however, won in this constituency in 1971 when the Congress split into the Congress (Indira) and Congress (O). In this election the DMK also gained the support of the Congress (Indira) as its prime ally. During the second time the DMK managed to won in this constituency in 1989, utilising the split in the AIADMK into the Jayalalithaa and Janaki factions and the five cornered contest.
The AIADMK, though a regional party, has the edge over the DMK at Nanguneri because of its pro-nationalism and this makes Nanguneri a tough battle ground for the Congress, whose candidate H Vasantha Kumar won by a margin of 17,441 against his close AIADMK rival, M Vijayakumar in the 2016 assembly election. According to a close aide of Vasantha Kumar in Nanguneri, the 2016
victory should be greatly credited to his business tactics, as he made Suresh alias Kasivendan of the All India Forward Bloc party contest to split Thevar community votes that otherwise would have gone in favour of the AIADMK candidate.
Suresh alias Kasivendan polled 14,116 votes that resulted in the AIADMK losing the constituency in 2016. The AIADMK this time is confident of taking back the constituency from the Congress as the DMDK and the BJP that individually polled 9445 votes and 6624 votes respectively in 2016 is now in its alliance. Moreover, T T V Dhinakaran abstaining from the by-election is viewed as a positive note for the AIADMK as the AIADMK vote bank will not get scattered as it was in the Parliament election or in the by-elections for the 22 Assembly constituencies earlier along with Lok Sabha polls.
The DMK-Congress alliance polling 86,306 votes in the Nanguneri assembly segment in the recent Parliament election for the Tirunelveli Lok Sabha constituency gives hope to the Congress to retain Nanguneri in this by-election....