Chennai: Loudspeakers blaring political message turned silent on Tuesday evening as the curtains came down on the high-voltage electoral campaign for the 39 Lok Sabha seats and Assembly by-polls in 18 constituencies in Tamil Nadu, to be held on April 18.
The campaign saw heated exchange of views including personal accusations by the leaders of the contesting parties.
The Lok Sabha and the Assembly by-elections will witness four-cornered contests.
However, the major contest will be between the ruling AIADMK-led alliance comprising of PMK, BJP, PMK, TMC, PT and PNK, and the opposition DMK-led alliance consisting of Congress, MDMK, CPI, CPI(M), IUML, VCK, KMDK and IJK.
Both AIADMK and DMK will be contesting in 20 seats in Tamil Nadu while sharing the remaining 20 — including the lone Puducherry seat — with their alliance partners.
Also in the fray are Kamal Haasan’s MNM and T.T.V. Dinakaran’s AMMK.
The ruling AIADMK led by Chief Minister K.Palaniswami campaigned listing out the government’s populist schemes, stressed the need for strong leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for nation’s security and criticised the DMK on various counts.
On its part, the DMK led by its President M.K. Stalin spoke about the ill-effects of demonetisation, Goods and Services Tax (GST), job losses, Central government usurping the state’s rights, strong attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, water woos and others.
Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi too visited Tamil Nadu couple of times for campaigning.
While one view is that the fight seems to be between the DMK and the BJP, with the ruling AIADMK relegated to the background, the second view is that the AIADMK is deliberately keeping the BJP in the forefront as a strategy.
“The Lok Sabha poll core issue has turned out to be the DMK versus the BJP. The BJP wants to make an entry into Tamil Nadu,” Ramu Manivannan, a Professor of Political Science at University of Madras, told IANS.
He said the DMK is mobilising all its forces against the BJP and Stalin has been strongly criticising Prime Minister Modi as “facist” in his rallies.
Former AIADMK MP K.C. Palanisamy maintained that all these years, the election fight in Tamil Nadu had between the AIADMK and the DMK. But “this time around, the AIADMK leadership has failed to maintain that line, giving prominence to the BJP”, he said.
Another AIADMK leader, however, held that if the DMK is targeting BJP, “it is good for the AIADMK”. “The BJP is not a major force in Tamil Nadu now. There is no point in targeting that party to gain politically,” the AIADMK leader, who did not want to be named, told IANS.
Be that as it may, for now, the parties are hoping that their campaigning strategy pays off with over 5.9 crore voters casting their vote in their favour on April 18.