In the absence of the charismatic leader Jayalalithaa, who was also quite popular with the minorities, the ruling party could not keep the seat.
There are a few inferences to be drawn from the DMK candidate’s victory in the Lok Sabha poll for the Vellore seat which was held a couple of months after the general elections. The first is that the secular front of DMK-Congress still holds sway over the minorities. The second is that the people seem quite unconcerned about the free play of cash-for-votes that was instrumental in the poll being put off by the Election Commission a few days before it was to be held in Tamil Nadu on April 18, most of the corrupt practices being attributed to the DMK candidate in terms of hard cash recoveries. Kathir Anand, son of veteran DMK leader Duraimurugan, scraped through with a little more than 8,000 votes in beating the AIADMK candidate. The party saw Muslim voters of three assembly segments out of six vote en masse to make the victory possible. In the absence of the charismatic leader Jayalalithaa, who was also quite popular with the minorities, the ruling party could not keep the seat.
The AIADMK can draw solace from the narrowness of the verdict. Under chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami, the party has managed to keep itself together as a political force while also cobbling together a majority enough to rule the assembly. Certain adeptness was required to keep power despite a wafer-thin advantage, but the ruling party may have benefited from its association with the BJP on this count. On the flip side, this may have led to losing the minority vote in a constituency with a heavy Muslim presence in Tamil Nadu’s tanning and finished leather hub of Ambur and Vaniyambadi. That may have been the price to pay in the Faustian bargain. The conclusion, of course, is that the two Dravidian majors are still supreme in the state even if the pendulum has swung to give the DMK front 38 of 39 Lok Sabha seats in the state.