AIADMK banking on Vanniyars to romp home in North Tamil Nadu
Chennai, March 1 (IANS) The ruling AIADMK which is aiming to retain Tamil Nadu in the Assembly elections on April 6, is playing all the cards up its sleeve.
The AIADMK-led government had signed an order providing 10 percent reservation under extreme backward class category to the Vanniyar community following the recommendation from Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), the political arm of the Vanniyyars, half an hour before the election notification was announced by the Chief Election Commissioner in New Delhi. This is significant as the Vanniyar community and its political party, PMK is highly cadre based and generally vote in totality for the party or front it supports.
In the 2016 assembly elections, the PMK had contested alone and had garnered close to 25 percent votes in constituencies of North Tamil Nadu where it has a sizeable presence. This includes Edappadi, the home constituency of Chief Minister Edappady K Palaniswami. The PMK got 5.3% votes in total across the state in the 2016 elections.
In the by-elections held in 22 assembly constituencies along with the 2019 general elections, the AIADMK and specifically Chief Minister Edappady Palaniswami were fighting with their back to the wall and had to win at least 9 seats to retain power. While the AIADMK faced a drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls with the DMK winning 38 out of the 39 seats, in the by- elections the party could win 9 seats and retain power. Palaniswami had owed this success to the PMK and the Vanniyar community.
In addition to its traditional voter base of North Tamil Nadu, the Vanniyar community has strong presence in certain places in Western Tamil Nadu including Salem district.
In Tamil Nadu politics, Northern Tamil Nadu has a strong presence of DMK and if the AIADMK wants to upset that equation it will have to have a proper political alliance with the PMK and the Vanniyar community.
Political observer C Rajeev from the Centre for Policy and Development Studies, a Think Tank based in Chennai, told IANS that “AIADMK is forced to have an alliance with the PMK and the Vanniyars and this community has a track record of properly transferring its votes to the party with which it is in alliance and hence the Edappady Palaniswami government has extended 10% reservation to the community as Extremely Backward which will help them to be included under Special reservation category”. He added that with the solid alliance with the PMK and the Vanniyars, the AIADMK front has gone one step ahead in several constituencies of Northern and Western Tamil Nadu.