The ruling DMK has swept rural local body polls in nine new districts in the first elections after it came to power in Tamil Nadu five months ago.
With the DMK already winning 900 seats, party chief and Chief Minister M K Stalin said today, “The results are an endorsement of the DMK’s five month rule. There is even more goodwill now.”
For the AIADMK that has won only 176 out of 1,574 seats so far, this is the third consecutive poor show after the 2019 general election and the Assembly polls earlier this year, all held after the death of its charismatic leader Jayalalithaa.
AIADMK spokesperson Kovai Sathyan blamed the state government’s “defiance” to the Madras High Court directions to the state Election Commission after the opposition party filed complaints of violence by DMK workers.
“There was violence, irregularities and so slow counting,” the AIADMK spokesperson said.
The BJP, which has been trying to aggressively position itself as a political player in Tamil Nadu, has won just 8 seats so far. Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam hasn’t opened its account yet.
The successive setbacks to the AIADMK may give some hope to Jayalalithaa’s close aide V K Sasikala who hopes to revive her political fortunes with a roadshow later this week. Just before assembly elections in April, Ms Sasikala had announced that she would stay away from politics after the AIADMK shut the doors on her.
After Jayalalithaa’s death, there was a tug of war between O Panneerselvam, who was picked by Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister twice, and former Chief Minister E K Palaniswami, who was picked by Ms Sasikala after she took over the party.
Shadow boxing between Mr Pannerselvam and Mr Palaniswami is an open secret.
However, AIADMK spokesperson C Ponnaiyan denies any tension between them and claims both leaders have good relations. “Both of them decide together and sign together for any decision. The cadre has accepted both As Amma’s political heirs,” he said.
Political observers say AIADMK, which once had iconic leaders like MGR and Jayalalithaa, is now grappling with a leadership crisis. Its ally BJP is already working to expand its footprint in Tamil Nadu.
Off camera, AIADMK veterans say there’s a dire need for the party to set its house in order before the upcoming urban local body polls soon and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.