Local issues to overshadow national polls in TN?

Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam start hunger hunger strike over Cauvery Mangement Board issue on April 3, 2018.

Chennai, March 28 (IANS) With 18 Assembly constituencies falling under 13 Lok Sabha constituencies set to go for bypolls, local issues will have an impact on the voting pattern in electing the parliamentarians in Tamil Nadu, said political leaders.

There is also a contrary view: this time around the elections in Tamil Nadu is distinctive, materialistic and will not be dominated by issues while perception may play an important part.

The polls for 39 Lok Sabha seats and Assembly byelections are slated to be held together on April 18 in the state.

“While holding elections for both Lok Sabha and Assembly together saves cost, majority of the people do not distinguish between the two polls while voting. So the local issues will play a major part in their voting pattern,” C. Ponniayan, spokesperson for AIADMK and former Finance Minister told IANS.

According to Ponnaiyan, the state government has taken several proactive steps in managing the drinking water problem that may arise by repairing the borewells motors, deepening the borewells and other steps.

He also said the issues raised by the DMK have also been addressed by the government.

“There is no anti-incumbency sentiment against the AIADMK government in the state,” Ponnaiyan claimed.

Refuting him was DMK’s former Member of Parliament R. Thamaraiselvan. He told IANS: “There is dual anti-incumbency factor at play-one against AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu and one against the BJP-led government in New Delhi.”

According to Thamaraiselvan, lots of state-centric issues are being raised by the DMK and it will echo in the voting for both Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

Thamaraiselvan said: “People have expectations from DMK and the sentiments are in our favour.

“The GST and demonetisation has affected common man very much. The state is facing a severe drought situation. The voters will look at the issues that affect them and vote.”

According to him, the AIADMK alliance is banking on electoral arithmetic, which will not work in their favour this time. The AIADMK has split and the breakaway group led by T.T.V. Dhinakaran is expected to garner sizeable chunk of the ruling party votes.

“In respect of the Vanniar party PMK, even the Vanniars themselves are disappointed with the party’s decision to align with AIADMK. So, the five per cent vote share of PMK may not actually be there now,” Thamaraiselvan added.

The ruling party may try to purchase votes but loyalty factor to vote for the party that is giving money is no more there in the people.

“‘It is our money coming back to us’ is the view that people now hold,” Thamaraiselvan added.

In his campaign, DMK President M.K. Stalin spends good number of minutes in criticising the PMK and its leadership for aligning with the AIADMK.

“The vote share arithmetic is in favour of AIADMK-led alliance even in the constituencies where by-elections are slated for Assembly. Even if it is true that the sentiment is in favour of DMK, only a small percentage of votes may switch leaving the arithmetical advantage for our alliance,” PMK spokesperson Vinoba Bhoopathy told IANS.

Bhoopathy said several other parties like Samathuva Makkal Katchi and others have extended support to the AIADMK alliance and they will also contribute good number of votes.

He said the AIADMK and others are seriously working to capture the Assembly and Lok Sabha seats.

“While campaigning, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami is focusing on the issues faced by people in each constituency and the government’s plans. He also touches upon the national security and how Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a strong person to lead the nation,” Bhoopathy remarked.

Both Thamaraiselvan and Bhoopathy said it will take some more time to judge the people’s mood.

“There is a likelihood of a BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government also influencing the voting pattern. Whether this election is issue-based or money-based is not known now. This time the elections in Tamil Nadu is extremely unpredictable,” Jhon Arokiasamy, a political strategist, told IANS.

Arokiasamy is of the view that the voters, instead of looking at issues raised by the parties or the poll symbols, may even compare and contrast the candidates and vote for one whom they think is better.

“People have lost faith in the causes raised by AIADMK and DMK as both have contributed to the emergence of the issues at one point or other,” Arokiasamy said.

“They repeat the same things in the manifestos. All things being the same, majority of the voters will look at ‘what is in it for me’ and cast vote to a party they perceive that would fulfil that promise. The election will be driven by materialism and money,” he concluded.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at [email protected])

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