DMK Alliance Forging Ahead?

During the initial days of the election campaign, it looked like ADMK was pretty much in the lead and DMK was a distant second. Over the past few days however, I think (my point of view alone, with no scientific/statistical backing) that the tide has turned; the election now is DMK's to lose.

I think DMK has forged ahead over the past week or so. If there are no more new stories in the next two weeks, I think DMK will win the election, but not get a simple majority by itself, thus would form a coalition government.

There are several reasons why I think ADMK has lost the momentum:

1. Jayalalitha's reversal of stance when it came to the issue of subsidized rice. DMK's announcement of free rice and color TV was met with much criticism and suspicion. The free TV in particular, was criticized because there was clearly a vested interest in the picture. The Rs 2. a kg rice scheme though was not an easy one to take apart. Though the elite public would scoff at the idea of giving away freebies, the voting electorate will like to get as much free stuff as it can, and the DMK heads clearly knew it. The most vocal opposition to the rice scheme came from Vai.Ko. He targeted the free rice scheme, compared it with a similar failed scheme from before, and even dared P.Chidambaram to announce Rs 2. rice all over India. That argument would have been very effective if it had run the course.

Then JJ made a mockery of it by hastily announcing free 10 kg rice. Her announcement, not a part of her original manifesto, did more damage to her credibility than good. It effectively shut out Vai.Ko, and gave a tacit approval to the feasibility of the DMK scheme. I think the electorate would look at JJ's announcement with suspicion and would rather believe in DMK's proposal. I think it was a big momentum killer for ADMK.

2. The growing distraction of Karthik and the AIFB. With the pro-DMK media strongly playing the 'Karthik as a victim of ADMK's tyranny' angle, this issue will result in ADMK losing some votes in its most powerful vote bank.

3. I think the initial attack against Dayanidhi Maran and the power of Sun Network by Vai.Ko has lost momentum. This is mainly because the ADMK is not following up on this, leaving it to MDMK to do negative campaigning. I doubt if ADMK's tactics of just focussing on its performance, and not doing smear/negative campaigns would work. ADMK could have pressed on about who would become the Chief Minister if DMK got elected, and whether Mu.Ka can actually serve out his term. By not focussing on the opposition, I think ADMK has not been able to neutralize DMK's campaign.

4. The power of the Sun Network media. Even a few days back, there was some sanity prevailing in Dinakaran/TamilMurasu/Sun TV. But the last few days, the gloves are off. Sun TV is a non-stop campaign stage for DMK. Dinakaran and TamilMurasu's one-sided reports are all over the place. I don't hear Sooriyan FM or read Kungumam, but I would guess they too are neck deep in propaganda. By the sheer market share of Sun TV and its associated publications, some percentage of the electorate is bound to shift over.

5. We've come to the end of people switching from one party to another, I guess. Though JJ has drawn Vai.Ko and Sarathkumar on her side, I don't think she will gain a lot from them. Now, had Vijaykanth moved to the ADMK alliance, that would have been a different story altogether.

So, as of now, I think the DMK alliance has the upper hand. As DMK is contesting in a limited number of seats, it won't get a simple majority, but may be able to form a coalition government.

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