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Tamil Nadu Lok Sabha Elections: 4 Factors That Helped DMK Alliance's Clean Sweep

The DMK-led INDIA bloc is leading in 39 out of 39 seats in Tamil Nadu.

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Elections
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The MK Stalin-led ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is poised for a clean sweep in the Tamil Nadu Lok Sabha elections with the party-led INDIA bloc leading on all the 39 seats in the state.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), meanwhile, failed to open its account in the state. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) alliance, too, has been reduced to zero seats.

The DMK-led INDIA bloc is leading in 39 out of 39 seats in Tamil Nadu.

DMK supporters celebrate the party's lead during counting of votes for Lok Sabha elections, at party headquarters, Anna Arivalayam

(Photo: PTI)

The DMK, which is an important ally of the INDIA bloc, has managed to better its 2019 performance when the alliance led by it backed 38 out of 39 seats. Of the 22 seats fought by the party, it has won 5 seats, and is leading on 14 seats.

What helped the DMK-led alliance's clean sweep? There are four probable reasons.

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1. Strong Alliance Partners

One of the main reasons for this outcome is the cohesiveness of the DMK's alliance with Congress, VCK, CPI, CPI(M), and IUML, and keeping it intact since 2019.

Senior journalist and political analyst Maalan Narayanan told The Quint that the DMK has made it clear since the beginning that it would be a "DMK-led INDIA bloc," and not the other way around.

"Though in the national level, it was called the INDIA bloc. In Tamil Nadu, it was a DMK-led alliance. Even Congress and other regional parties had accepted that DMK was the head, thereby making it the strongest alliance in Tamil Nadu... The BJP was also trying to do the same, while the AIADMK was scrambling to find partners," Narayanan said.
The DMK-led INDIA bloc is leading in 39 out of 39 seats in Tamil Nadu.

DMK supporters celebrate the party's lead during counting of votes for Lok Sabha elections, at party headquarters, Anna Arivalayam.

(Photo: PTI)

This alliance has also stayed together primarily due to their common fight to resist the entry of the BJP in Tamil Nadu, which has predominantly been ruled by Dravidian parties.

2. Validation of DMK's 3-Year Governance

The 2024 results for the DMK also shed light on the performance of the DMK in the last three years at the Assembly level.

"When you look at the national level, most states have voted against the ruling state government due to the anti-incumbency factor. But the DMK in Tamil Nadu and the TMC in West Bengal are exceptions... the DMK also reminded the people that it was true to its Dravidian ideology..."
Maalan Narayanan

3. Countering Hindutva With Dravidian Ideology

The DMK was able to successfully devise strategies to counter the BJP's electoral machinery. If the BJP led by Annamalai focused on attacking DMK as an 'anti-Hindu,' 'corrupt,' and 'dynasty-driven' party, the DMK built a narrative branding the BJP as 'anti-Tamil Nadu' and 'anti-federalism'.

4. Split of Anti-DMK Votes

Another main factor was the split of the AIADMK and the BJP in the run up to the elections. The break-up led to the split of the anti-DMK votes between the two parties. The DMK also consolidated the anti-BJP votes.

What Didn't Work for the BJP

The BJP hoped to make inroads into the state and attempted to put an end to the myth that lotus will "never bloom' in Tamil Nadu. This is not to say that the BJP has not been able to make a mark in Tamil Nadu. The BJP has been able to improve its vote share by 3.66 in 2019 percentage to around 11% in 2024.

The party may have failed in converting its popularity into seat wins, but it appears to be securing second position in at least 10 constituencies.

But the reasons for the BJP not entering the state (including a loss for its president Annamalai from the Coimbatore seat) are the following --

Relying on Modi factor: As part of its 'Mission South,' both PM Modi and the BJP have been exclusively focussing on the state. Since January 2024, the prime minister has also visited the state nearly 9-10 times. PM Modi also worked hard at correcting the anti-Tamil perception.

  • The party worked hard in trying to gain support among young and first-time voters.

  • Adding to this is state BJP chief and firebrand politician Annamalai's aggressive poll strategy of breaking away from the AIADMK and leading an alliance of its own for the first time.

  • It also tapped into the anti-incumbency factor and tried to portray itself as an alternate to the DMK and AIADMK.

"You have to give credit to Annamalai for taking BJP and the rural areas, because before that it was considered an Urban party supported by the educated middle-class and the Brahmin/Hindu community. He has changed the perception. He is talking almost like a Dravidian party..."
Maalan Narayanan to The Quint
  • BJP's narrative on DMK: Despite portraying the DMK as a 'corrupt' party, experts believed that it did not resonate with the people.

"Periyarists, socialists, communists, Gandhians, Ambedkarists will not fall for Hindutva. In North India, BJP did manage to bring into its side, but it was not able to bring them into their fold in Tamil Nadu," Narayanan said.
  • Split of anti-DMK votes: This is what seems to have affected the party as well. Tamil Nadu has always witnessed a bi-polar contest, and the fact that there were three alliances to choose from, affected both the BJP and the AIADMK.

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Future of AIADMK?

For the AIADMK, which has lost two consecutive elections, this election is a matter of prestige. The AIADMK is giving a strong fight in several seats but faces significant challenges.

While its vote bank seem to be intact at around 20%, the AIADMK has been pushed to the third position by the BJP – with about half of the votes counted.

"In many places, the AIADMK votes were eaten by the BJP... the real challenge is to see whether AIADMK and BJP will form an alliance in 2026. If they are going to be as it is, then it will always be an advantage for the DMK," Narayanan opined.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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