Western Tamil Nadu, which was responsible for the AIADMK forming the government in 2016, and which has traditionally been its bastion, failed to help the ruling party make any gains in the Lok Sabha polls. In fact, AIADMK heavyweight and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M. Thambi Durai bit the dust in Karur, losing to Jothimani of the Congress.
The combined might of the AIADMK and the BJP in Coimbatore failed to help the latter in the urban constituency and likewise the PMK was unable to retain Dharmapuri though it aligned with the ruling party.
AIADMK leaders conceded that they had not anticipated the poor show. “Considering that the Chief Minister is from the western region and two heavyweight ministers Velumani and Thangamani are from here, we expected to do better. But even in Salem, the Chief Minister’s hometown, we were swept by the anti-Modi wave. In contrast, the only seat our party has retained is Theni where the Deputy Chief Minister’s son contested,” said a senior AIADMK leader. The DMK wrested the Salem seat after a gap of nearly 36 years.
However, in the Sulur bypoll, the AIADMK managed to convincingly trounce DMK bigwig and former Minister Pongalur N. Palanisamy. Likewise, the party benefited from its alliance with the PMK in Harur and Pappireddypatti Assembly constituencies while in Hosur former Minister Balakrishna Reddy’s wife was unable to capitalise on early gains.
“In a way, the west has contributed to some extent to help Edappadi Palaniswami retain power by helping the AIADMK win in the Assembly bypolls. We will do some number crunching later to see how the party fared in the west as opposed to south, its other stronghold, in the Parliamentary elections,” said the leader.
Party leaders conceded that it came as a concern that a senior functionary like K.P. Munusamy was unable to succeed in Krishnagiri where the Congress had fielded former MLA A Chellakumar, considered an outsider. Besides, in Namakkal, the AIADMK lost to the KMDK’s Chinraj who contested on the DMK symbol. In Erode, MDMK’s Ganesamurthy romped home on the DMK symbol, while the CPI’s K.Subbarayan and CPI(M)’s P.R. Natarajan scored big victories in Tiruppur and Coimbatore respectively.
In Pollachi, the DMK nominee A. Shanmugasundaram edged AIADMK MP C. Mahendran, while in Nilgiris former Telecom Minister A. Raja won by a huge margin in Nilgiris.