Kathir Anand of the DMK won the Vellore seat by a margin of 8000-odd votes. Initial sweets were distributed by the AIADMK camp followers as the impressive lead its candidate AC Shanmugham built up in the initial rounds.
DMK candidate Kathir Anand, son of senior leader Durai Murugan, won by a margin of 8,141 votes against the AIADMK’s AC Shanmugam. While the AIADMK initially led, its opponent took the lead after five rounds.
TTV Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) and Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam did not contest this time.
From raising slogans on their ‘Thalaivar’s contribution’ to bursting crackers, over 100 DMK cadre began celebrations at the party office around 2 pm.
The DMK’s victory can be attributed to the anti-BJP campaigns run in this constituency, which has a sizeable Muslim population. The AIADMK supporting the Centre on the issue of the Triple Talaq Bill in the Lok Sabha did not go down well with the Muslim population in Vellore even though the party changed its stance during the discussions in the Rajya Sabha ahead of the polls.
The Lok Sabha election in Vellore was cancelled after cash that was allegedly kept for distribution among voters was found. The DMK-led alliance swept the polls in Tamil Nadu, going against the BJP wave in the rest of the country. It won 37 of the 38 seats in Tamil Nadu.
Which is why the fact that the DMK was made to sweat in Vellore is significant. Is the narrow margin of victory a warning sign to the DMK not to take 2021 when the next assembly elections are due, for granted? Does it hold out hope for the AIADMK-led alliance in Tamil Nadu?
Two, it is important to note that this was a prestige battle for the DMK strongman Durai Murugan as Anand is his son. The fact that he could not pull off a convincing victory would rankle.
Three, Vellore is home to 2.67 lakh Muslim votes. The DMK would need to analyse if it did not pool in a majority of the minority votes because they were seen as a solid votebank in the pocket. Here it is significant to note that in 2014, Shanmugham as the BJP candidate pushed the IUML candidate (of the DMK-led alliance) to third place. Shanmugham who ended up in second spot, had lost to the AIADMK by 59000 votes.
At the same time, the fight put in by the AIADMK is being seen more as Shanmugham’s individual effort. Shanmugham, who founded the New Justice Party, has hopped between the AIADMK and the BJP in his political career, runs several colleges and hospitals in Vellore and that makes him an influential and well-known face in the constituency.
So does the good fight bring no cheer to the AIADMK? Not to the extent that a victory would have. It does not quite indicate that the party is bouncing back after the drubbing on 23 May.