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PMK-BJP Alliance: Who Will Benefit From Whom in Lok Sabha Polls in Tamil Nadu?

The PMK has a stronghold in the northern parts of Tamil Nadu, which is considered the Vanniyar belt.

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After a last-minute seesaw seat negotiation with the AIADMK and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) has chosen the saffron party as its Lok Sabha election partner in Tamil Nadu. 

Hours after signing the seat-sharing agreement, PMK founder Dr Ramadoss and his son and president of the party, Anbumani Ramadoss, shared the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Salem on Tuesday, 19 March.

The BJP, which is heading the alliance in the state, will contest in 20 seats. Meanwhile, 10 seats have been allotted to PMK, three seats to the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), two seats to the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), and four seats to be contested with regional partners on ’lotus’ symbol.

The PMK holds a significant influence in the northern regions of Tamil Nadu, specifically in the Vanniyar belt, which is dominated by the Most Backward Classes. Now, let's delve into the reasons behind the party's decision to form an alliance with the BJP, especially after the BJP ended its partnership with the AIADMK in the state.

PMK-BJP Alliance: Who Will Benefit From Whom in Lok Sabha Polls in Tamil Nadu?

  1. 1. PMK-BJP Alliance: Who Benefits From Whom?

    In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the PMK – which contested in seven constituencies – gained 5.5 percent vote share. Though the party didn't win any seats, it gathered an overall of 22,97,431 votes. 

    Out of the seven seats, the party contested in Arakkonam, Cuddalore, Dharmapuri, Sriperumbudur, and Villupuram, where Vanniyars are dominant. The PMK also contested in Chennai Central and Dindigul constituencies where it secured 19.01 percent and 18.01 percent vote share, respectively. 

    In Dharmapuri, Anbumani gained 41.7 percent votes share against a voter turnout of 85.1 percent. With 5,04,235 votes, he was the highest vote-garner for the PMK among the seven candidates. 

    As for other Vanniyar belts: at Arakkonam, the party got 29.4 percent vote share, at Villupuram 38.4 percent, and Cuddalore 36.6 percent. In Sriperumbudur, the party got 20.6 percent votes against a voter turnout of 65.7 percent.

    On the other hand, the BJP – which contested in a solid alliance headed by the AIADMK, late actor Vijayakanth's DMDK, Puthiya Tamizhagam, New Justice Party, and GK Vasan-led TMC – managed to gain only 3.66 percent vote share from the five constituencies of Kanyakumari, Coimbatore, Ramanathapuram, Thoothukudi, and Sivaganga. 

    Except for Coimbatore, all four constituencies are in southern Tamil Nadu. Interestingly, the vote share dipped to 2 percent compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, where the party secured a 5.56 percent vote share and also won the Kanniyakumari constituency. 

    This time, the party has been allotted 10 seats, more than what it contested in both 2014 and 2019.

    On Friday, 22 March, PMK announced the candidates for nine out of ten constituencies in Dharmapuri, Arani, Arakkonam, Dindigul, Salem, Cuddalore, Villupuram, Mayiladuthurai, Kallaikuruchi.

    Expand
  2. 2. PMK May Not Have a Vote Transfer From Its Allies

    Stating that while the BJP has succeeded in building such an alliance in a short span – in spite of the ongoing AIADMK-PMK talks – Charles Augustine, a retired political science professor, told The Quint:

    "But the real question is, who will benefit from this alliance? One should understand that an alliance, at the end of the day, is purely based on arithmetic calculations and how the votes are being shared and transferred with the ally parties. If there is no mutual vote sharing, there is no use in keeping an election tie."

    Augustine added, "The BJP has the slightest vote bank in the northern districts and the DMK, AIADMK, and PMK have the complete share of the Vanniyar vote bank. TTV Dhinakaran and O Paneerselvam have their vote banks restricted to the southern districts. PMK doesn't have a vote bank in the southern districts. The only party that will benefit from the alliance is the BJP. The BJP will siphon the votes of the PMK in the northern constituencies and the AMMK and OPS votes in the southern constituencies."

    He also said that there would be no gain for the PMK in the alliance with the BJP as it cannot benefit from the vote share of the saffron party. "Except in Dindigul, the PMK is not going to contest in any of the southern or western region constituencies, where the BJP and Dhinakaran have some voter base. The PMK will contest in most of the northern constituencies, where BJP does not have a vote bank or proper party infrastructure," Augustine opined.

    In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the PMK and the BJP faced the elections as part of the NDA headed by the AIADMK in the state. The AIADMK contested 21 seats and won the Theni constituency, where the party's rebel leader O Paneerselvam's son Ravindranath Kumar defeated the Congress candidate EVKS Elangovan.

    In the other 18 places, the AIADMK and its allies secured the second place, which means, the vote transfer happened from the AIADMK to its allies, including the BJP and the PMK, in all the constituencies and vice versa. 

    Expand
  3. 3. We Are in the 'Giving' Place, Says PMK

    Speaking to The Quint, PMK's treasurer M Thilagabama said that the party is indeed the biggest and the strongest one in the alliance in terms of the vote share. 

    When asked about the possibility of vote transfer from the ally parties to the PMK, Thilagabama said, "We understand the arithmetic calculations of the vote transfer, and if any party contests in Tamil Nadu, especially in the northern parts, they cannot win without the support of the PMK. We are now in the 'giving' space rather than in taking place."

    Thilagabama also stated even in the 2019 general elections, the vote transfer from the AIADMK did not take place and that the PMK retained its usual vote bank of 5 percent. "Since there is no other party in the alliance, with the vote bank strength that we have now, we will help our allies, including the BJP, to reach the target."

    "This is the election for the nation. The nation must be in strong hands. We see [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi as the fit person to rule the country and the PMK will work hard for that," she stated. 

    A senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity, told The Quint that the central high command is keen on bringing the PMK and the DMDK into the allies. 

    "We have built a base in south Tamil Nadu for the past 10 years, among the Devendrakula Vellalar community (a dominant Scheduled Caste community) and now we have Dhinakaran and OPS, who have the word among Mukkulathor community, with us. In the Kongu region, (Coimbatore Erode, Karur, and Salem districts) the party's infrastructure is strong. The only thing that was worrying us was the northern districts, and now we have the PMK with us."

    "We will use this opportunity to create a base in the northern districts in the coming years and the party will contest at least in two constituencies in the northern region," the leader said.

    Expand
  4. 4. PMK-BJP Alliance Not Natural: AIADMK

    Sources close to the PMK high command said that leaving the AIADMK in a lurch, Ramadoss called for a high-level executive meeting on Monday, 18 March, and decided to face the elections with the BJP. "Till then we were told that the party will go with the AIADMK," he added.

    When asked about whether the cadre accepted the decision of facing the elections with the BJP, he said:

    "This is not an Assembly election. The probability of the BJP coming to power for the third time is very high. For the past 10 years, we haven't had any say in Delhi politics. We had only Anbumani representing the PMK in national politics. Since DMK allies are strong in the state, the party's high command is very keen to win at least four to five seats in the northern region where we are strong and to maintain a cordial relationship with the BJP for the next five years for the welfare of the PMK."

    He also stated that both Ramadoss and Anbumani were "aware of the BJP's strategy" and decided to give up a couple of constituencies to the saffron party in the northern districts where the PMK is weak. 

    Commenting on the decision of the PMK's alliance with the BJP, senior AIADMK leader and former minister Sellur K Raju said that PMK was "making a blunder." 

    "The PMK has paved the way for the communal forces to penetrate in their so-called bastion. Except for Ramadoss and his son, no one in the party likes collaborating with the BJP. At the end of the day, the party at the grassroots level does the election work and no PMK cadre is ready to canvas for the BJP and the results will prove it," Raju claimed. 

    When asked about what went wrong in the alliance talks with the PMK, the AIADMK leader said: "When we were in power, we fulfilled whatever requests made by the PMK but once again PMK proved that it is an opportunistic and unassertive party and the people of Tamil Nadu are watching them."

    Further, Raju said: "PMK's relationship with BJP is not a natural one like AIADMK's, and this election will not be a three-cornered fight. It will be a fight between DMK and AIADMK, as usual."

    (Vinodh Arulappan is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience covering Tamil Nadu politics, socio-culture issues, courts, and crime in newspapers, television, and digital platforms.)

    (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.)

    Expand

PMK-BJP Alliance: Who Benefits From Whom?

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the PMK – which contested in seven constituencies – gained 5.5 percent vote share. Though the party didn't win any seats, it gathered an overall of 22,97,431 votes. 

Out of the seven seats, the party contested in Arakkonam, Cuddalore, Dharmapuri, Sriperumbudur, and Villupuram, where Vanniyars are dominant. The PMK also contested in Chennai Central and Dindigul constituencies where it secured 19.01 percent and 18.01 percent vote share, respectively. 

In Dharmapuri, Anbumani gained 41.7 percent votes share against a voter turnout of 85.1 percent. With 5,04,235 votes, he was the highest vote-garner for the PMK among the seven candidates. 

As for other Vanniyar belts: at Arakkonam, the party got 29.4 percent vote share, at Villupuram 38.4 percent, and Cuddalore 36.6 percent. In Sriperumbudur, the party got 20.6 percent votes against a voter turnout of 65.7 percent.

On the other hand, the BJP – which contested in a solid alliance headed by the AIADMK, late actor Vijayakanth's DMDK, Puthiya Tamizhagam, New Justice Party, and GK Vasan-led TMC – managed to gain only 3.66 percent vote share from the five constituencies of Kanyakumari, Coimbatore, Ramanathapuram, Thoothukudi, and Sivaganga. 

Except for Coimbatore, all four constituencies are in southern Tamil Nadu. Interestingly, the vote share dipped to 2 percent compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, where the party secured a 5.56 percent vote share and also won the Kanniyakumari constituency. 

This time, the party has been allotted 10 seats, more than what it contested in both 2014 and 2019.

On Friday, 22 March, PMK announced the candidates for nine out of ten constituencies in Dharmapuri, Arani, Arakkonam, Dindigul, Salem, Cuddalore, Villupuram, Mayiladuthurai, Kallaikuruchi.

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PMK May Not Have a Vote Transfer From Its Allies

Stating that while the BJP has succeeded in building such an alliance in a short span – in spite of the ongoing AIADMK-PMK talks – Charles Augustine, a retired political science professor, told The Quint:

"But the real question is, who will benefit from this alliance? One should understand that an alliance, at the end of the day, is purely based on arithmetic calculations and how the votes are being shared and transferred with the ally parties. If there is no mutual vote sharing, there is no use in keeping an election tie."

Augustine added, "The BJP has the slightest vote bank in the northern districts and the DMK, AIADMK, and PMK have the complete share of the Vanniyar vote bank. TTV Dhinakaran and O Paneerselvam have their vote banks restricted to the southern districts. PMK doesn't have a vote bank in the southern districts. The only party that will benefit from the alliance is the BJP. The BJP will siphon the votes of the PMK in the northern constituencies and the AMMK and OPS votes in the southern constituencies."

He also said that there would be no gain for the PMK in the alliance with the BJP as it cannot benefit from the vote share of the saffron party. "Except in Dindigul, the PMK is not going to contest in any of the southern or western region constituencies, where the BJP and Dhinakaran have some voter base. The PMK will contest in most of the northern constituencies, where BJP does not have a vote bank or proper party infrastructure," Augustine opined.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the PMK and the BJP faced the elections as part of the NDA headed by the AIADMK in the state. The AIADMK contested 21 seats and won the Theni constituency, where the party's rebel leader O Paneerselvam's son Ravindranath Kumar defeated the Congress candidate EVKS Elangovan.

In the other 18 places, the AIADMK and its allies secured the second place, which means, the vote transfer happened from the AIADMK to its allies, including the BJP and the PMK, in all the constituencies and vice versa. 

0

We Are in the 'Giving' Place, Says PMK

Speaking to The Quint, PMK's treasurer M Thilagabama said that the party is indeed the biggest and the strongest one in the alliance in terms of the vote share. 

When asked about the possibility of vote transfer from the ally parties to the PMK, Thilagabama said, "We understand the arithmetic calculations of the vote transfer, and if any party contests in Tamil Nadu, especially in the northern parts, they cannot win without the support of the PMK. We are now in the 'giving' space rather than in taking place."

Thilagabama also stated even in the 2019 general elections, the vote transfer from the AIADMK did not take place and that the PMK retained its usual vote bank of 5 percent. "Since there is no other party in the alliance, with the vote bank strength that we have now, we will help our allies, including the BJP, to reach the target."

"This is the election for the nation. The nation must be in strong hands. We see [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi as the fit person to rule the country and the PMK will work hard for that," she stated. 

A senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity, told The Quint that the central high command is keen on bringing the PMK and the DMDK into the allies. 

"We have built a base in south Tamil Nadu for the past 10 years, among the Devendrakula Vellalar community (a dominant Scheduled Caste community) and now we have Dhinakaran and OPS, who have the word among Mukkulathor community, with us. In the Kongu region, (Coimbatore Erode, Karur, and Salem districts) the party's infrastructure is strong. The only thing that was worrying us was the northern districts, and now we have the PMK with us."

"We will use this opportunity to create a base in the northern districts in the coming years and the party will contest at least in two constituencies in the northern region," the leader said.

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PMK-BJP Alliance Not Natural: AIADMK

Sources close to the PMK high command said that leaving the AIADMK in a lurch, Ramadoss called for a high-level executive meeting on Monday, 18 March, and decided to face the elections with the BJP. "Till then we were told that the party will go with the AIADMK," he added.

When asked about whether the cadre accepted the decision of facing the elections with the BJP, he said:

"This is not an Assembly election. The probability of the BJP coming to power for the third time is very high. For the past 10 years, we haven't had any say in Delhi politics. We had only Anbumani representing the PMK in national politics. Since DMK allies are strong in the state, the party's high command is very keen to win at least four to five seats in the northern region where we are strong and to maintain a cordial relationship with the BJP for the next five years for the welfare of the PMK."

He also stated that both Ramadoss and Anbumani were "aware of the BJP's strategy" and decided to give up a couple of constituencies to the saffron party in the northern districts where the PMK is weak. 

Commenting on the decision of the PMK's alliance with the BJP, senior AIADMK leader and former minister Sellur K Raju said that PMK was "making a blunder." 

"The PMK has paved the way for the communal forces to penetrate in their so-called bastion. Except for Ramadoss and his son, no one in the party likes collaborating with the BJP. At the end of the day, the party at the grassroots level does the election work and no PMK cadre is ready to canvas for the BJP and the results will prove it," Raju claimed. 

When asked about what went wrong in the alliance talks with the PMK, the AIADMK leader said: "When we were in power, we fulfilled whatever requests made by the PMK but once again PMK proved that it is an opportunistic and unassertive party and the people of Tamil Nadu are watching them."

Further, Raju said: "PMK's relationship with BJP is not a natural one like AIADMK's, and this election will not be a three-cornered fight. It will be a fight between DMK and AIADMK, as usual."

(Vinodh Arulappan is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience covering Tamil Nadu politics, socio-culture issues, courts, and crime in newspapers, television, and digital platforms.)

(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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Topics:  Tamil Nadu   AIADMK   AIADMK-BJP-PMK 

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