Chennai: The outcome of the two Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and the AIADMK winning both Nanguneri and Vikravandi is not going to alter the political arithmetic in the Tamil Nadu legislature but then, it sure has thrown up a few interesting questions and answers.
For instance, the fact that both the seats have been wrested from the Opposition and that would rise the AIADMK tally to a very comfortable 124 in the House of 234, seems much less important than these results pushing up the public image of Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami as a worthy successor to the Iron Lady, the Amma of AIADMK. A sure corollary is that the by-polls outcome has caused a dent in DMK president MK Stalin's political standing - one barometer this downslide has been the heavy traffic on the social media, most of it trolling him as a loser.
The bypolls outcome is a sure shot of potent political tonic for the ruling party.
That's pretty obvious even without taking into account the quantity of laddus distributed and the fireworks burst by the party members in Chennai and elsewhere in the state. Its demonstration came from the robust celebration by the party functionaries and cadres to welcome CM Edappadi as his car entered the AIADMK headquarters in Royapettah.
The scene seemed a rewind of the Jayalalithaa era when the followers would turn delirious on seeing their Amma, particularly after an electoral win, big or small. The only visible difference one could spot at the headquarters on Thursday was that they were all over Edappadi, presenting him with rose bunches and even feeding him laddus while the man wore a 1000-watt bulb on his face and a proud smile. And he distributed the laddus too. Amma would have all that done by her lieutenants and the Black Cats, while basking under the adulating fawning of the thondars and second/third rung leaders.
Talking of Amma, the AIADMK thought it fit to post on its twitter handle, soon after the by-poll results were announced, a short video of Jayalalithaa's speech in the Assembly in an early term as CM - she is seen wearing her then-familiar cape - and declaring in her ringing tone that the AIADMK would remain the people's choice, not just during her lifetime but for generations to follow and that's because it's is led by someone who toiled selflessly for public welfare.
Interestingly, EPS was seated fifth in the row of ministers after Amma (OPS was number-two then); but now Edappadiyar is way above the rest of them all.
“These bypoll results are a big victory for Edappadi, who is trying to emerge as a leader on his own just as Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi. It remains to be seen whether he will succeed ultimately,” says political analyst Ravindran Duraisamy.
One would feel that Ravindran is being over-cautious in praising EPS. The TV newscasts and the social media had made sure that the people could witness his high-decibel campaign speeches hitting out at main rival Stalin, real hard. Once again, it would remind the TN audiences of Amma's sabre-rattling against the late Kalaignar; though she was still several rungs above her present successor being a woman at war.
Stalin on the other hand has lost badly, not just in the two bypolls - at Nanguneri where ally Congress fared poor and at Vikravandi where the DMK candidate was generally credited with better chances but ended up losing by a hefty margin of 44,924 votes to AIADMK's Muthamilselvan who notched up a whopping 60.29 vote share.
Compare this with the May-2019 Lok Sabha polls in which Stalin's DMK plus allies had won 38 of the 39 seats contested, plus scored victories in 13 out of 22 Assembly byelections, whereas the AIADMK won in a lone seat at Theni and only nine of the Assembly bypolls.
“The DMK had won at that time by dishing out lies that they would deliver this and that to the people, who believed them thinking the Congress would come to power at the Centre and Stalin would deliver on his lies. On the other hand, we are true to our Amma's commitment that we shall promise only what we can honour, and no lies”, CM Edappadi has said.
Interestingly, the DMK in these two by-elections presented only Stalin and his son Udayanidhi on the campaign platforms, mostly, while ignoring star speakers 'Tiruchy' Siva and A Raja, besides stalwarts like Durai Murugan, and MPs such as Kanimozhi and Dayanidhi Maran.
None of the party's deputy general secretaries, such as V P Duraisamy, I Periasamy and Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan, and spokesman TKS Elangovan, were visible in the DMK campaign. Perhaps Stalin had thought he could take all the credit for himself and his son for the 'sure' win in Vikravandi and the Congress victory at Nanguneri.
“He campaigned for three days each in the two constituencies and told the party functionaries we should certainly not lose Vikravandi as it's a DMK seat”, said a reliable source....