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How smaller parties played big spoilers in Tamil Nadu election

WITH THE two alliances led by DMK and AIADMK bagging almost 85 per cent of the vote share in Tamil Nadu, all smaller parties outside the alliances failed to grab a single seat, although they did play spoilers for the two Dravidian majors in several seats.

While Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) bagged 2.52 per cent vote share, T T V Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) got a vote share of 2.35 per cent. Both parties, which made their assembly elections debut this time, drew a blank, with even their founders losing their respective contests. However, they managed enough votes to tilt the results in several seats.

For instance, AMMK spoiled the chances of AIADMK – Dhinakaran’s former party – in at least 20 seats. Haasan’s MNM, a party that was accused of being the RSS’s B-Team by rivals, was largely a threat to the DMK than the AIADMK at several places.

Another smaller party which made a difference in several seats was Tamil nationalist leader Seeman’s Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK). Although it failed to win a seat, the party improved its vote share to 6.58 per cent, up from 1 per cent in the last assembly elections in 2016 and 4 per cent in the 2019 parliamentary elections. It spoiled the calculations of both DMK and AIADMK in many seats.

A look at the results shows how the AMMK, which drew its votes from the traditional AIADMK vote bank, hurt the prospects of the AIADMK, especially in close contests, in 20-odd seats.

In Neyveli, where the DMK won with a margin of 977 votes, the AMMK polled 2,230 votes. In Katpadi, where the DMK won with a margin of 746 votes, the AMMK got 1,066 votes.

The AMMK and its ally Captain Vijayakanth’s DMDK – the main opposition party in 2011 that was literally reduced to almost zero in vote share (0.43%) this time – also played spoilers in Virudhachalam. The Congress won this seat with a margin of 862 votes as the DMDK garnered 25,908 votes.

In Karaikudi, where Congress defeated BJP leader H Raja with a margin of 21,589 votes, the AMMK polled 44,864 votes, while in Mayiladuthurai, where the Congress won with a margin of 2,742 votes, Dhinakaran’s party got 7,282 votes.

In Mannargudi, the home turf of Dhinakaran’s aunt Sasikala, the DMK registered a victory margin of 37,393 votes. The AMMK bagged 40,481 votes while the ruling AIADMK 49,779 votes. Thiruporur, Sankarankovil, Sattur were among the other seats where the AMMK played a role in AIADMK’s defeat.

Even as the AIADMK alliance managed to get a vote share of more than 39 per cent this time against 40.88 per cent in 2016, these 20 seats would have improved its position.

Although the DMK emerged the winner, the decline in its vote share as compared to 2019 will be a cause of concern in the party. In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, it won 38 out of the 39 seats, with a vote share of 52 per cent. This came down to 45-46 per cent this time.

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