The high octane campaign for the April 6 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections ended on Sunday at 7 pm, with the stage now set for the polling on April 6 which will decide whether it will a hat-trick of terms for the AIADMK or the return of DMK after a decade in opposition.
As many as 3,998 candidates, including chief minister K Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam, DMK President MK Stalin, AMMK founder TTV Dhinakaran, actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan, Naam Tamizhar Katchi leader Seeman and BJP state unit chief L Murugan are in the fray. National leaders–Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi were among those who campaigned for the respective ruling and opposition alliances.
The Election Commission said items and cash totally worth over Rs 428 crore have been seized in the run-up to the polls.Patrolling has been strengthened during night and early morning along with expenditure teams and this has resulted in significant seizure in the last 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the last minute campaign turns out to be an attack via communication apps, sharing screenshots from alleged correspondence between parties and their election consultancy agencies.
The ruling AIADMK, steered by chief minister K Palaniswami, is keen to ensure continuation of ‘Amma aatchi’ (Amma’s rule) for an unprecedented third time while DMK president M K Stalin has invested all his resources to upset his rival’s hopes and reverse the wheel of fortune.
He also stoutly denied the existence of any anti-incumbency wave against his government, saying it delivered on its promises by implementing historic schemes and developmental projects.
Having faced the 2016 elections by its own, under the late Jayalalithaa, AIADMK has aligned with the BJP and PMK and some other local outfits. The party then won 135 seats.
The alliance is being described as a combination of Leaves, Flower and Fruit,alluding to their respective symbols.
The DMK, ousted in 2011 following a dismal show due to a number of factors including the severe power cuts, put up a more spirited performance five years later, getting elevated as the principal opposition party.
DMK chief MK Stalin, on the other hand, said the party will capture the power from AIADMK this time with a thumping majority as pre poll surveys predicted.
The Anna Arivalayam, head quarter of DMK even put out a live clock in front of it showing the count down of Stalin becoming chief minister of state showing shear confidence.
MNM leader, actor Kamal Haasan is making his electoral debut in 2021, seeking his fortunes from Coimbatore South, part of the western region often hailed as AIADMK’s fortress. He said that, he is ready to quit cinema if it becomes hurdle for his political career, which was meant for serving the people, indicating his future role in Tamil Nadu politics and confidence of making big impact in this election.
However, the BJP has managed to push its own narrative, managing to bring to the fore the issue of faith and ‘Hindu renaissance,’ something the rationalist DMK could not ignore.
Faith, generally, has not been an election topic in Tamil Nadu but the controversy surrounding ‘Karuppar Koottam’, an atheist group with alleged DMK links accused of denigrating ‘kandasashti kavacham’, prompted the BJP to launch a Vel Yatra, combining the issue with Tamil pride.
The Election Commission has made it clear that no campaign activity shall be held from now on, including in social media and through other forms of electronic communication that includes SMS. Over 6.28 crore eligible voters will choose 234 members of the 3,998 contesting the elections.