(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 30, 2011
Local Poll Results Indicate Anger Against DMK, Allies
A A Nainar
THE recently concluded elections to the local bodies in Tamilnadu had virtually repeated the results of the May 2011 elections to state assembly, barring a few changes. Unlike in the assembly elections, most of the parties contested the elections independently and hence it happened to be a testing ground for their individual strengths in terms of voter preference.
The ruling AIADMK had contested the assembly elections in alliance with 13 parties, big and small, whereas the DMK was in alliance with the Congress, PMK and VCK. As is known, the AIADMK front swept the polls, leaving only 29 to the DMK combine out of a total of 234 seats. After the elections, this front was torn apart and all the parties contested the local body elections independently. This prompted the AIADMK to “go it alone and grab all.” Of course, the AIADMK put up the façade of discussions with the CPI(M) and CPI by forming a negotiations committee, but it was a non-serious engagement that ended up in dillydallying. As the AIADMK announced candidates for the constituencies hitherto held by the alliance partners while engaging them in never ending discussions, soon there was the final break-up of talks. The CPI(M), in its state committee meeting held on September 26, decided to forge an alliance with the non-Congress, non-BJP, secular and democratic parties with the obvious exclusion of DMK, PMK and AIADMK for varying reasons. CPI and CPI(M) leaders were continuously apprising each other on the progress of the talks. But when the CPI(M) decided to break with the AIADMK and hold discussions with the DMDK, the CPI remained undecided, hoping to join hands with the AIADMK. On account of this there was some delay in CPI joining the CPI(M)-DMDK alliance.
The elections took place in two phases, on October 17 and 19, and the results came on October 21. It was a low polling election when most of the parties were contesting independently. So the single largest party stood to gain --- the AIADMK almost swept the polls. It won all the 10 mayor posts for the 10 corporations and 89 chairmen posts out of 125 municipalities in the state. In the town panchayats, district panchayats and ward elections, the same trend was visible. The DMK came a distant second in terms of the seats won. However, though the AIADMK victory was spectacular, it polled only 39.02 per cent of the votes polled, whereas the DMK polled 26.10 per cent. The DMDK came third with 10.11 per cent of votes, relegating to the fourth place the Congress which polled a paltry 5.71 per cent. The PMK, MDMK and BJP had also polled their committed votes and seats proportionate to the percentage of votes polled. The Left parties together polled 1.73 per cent of votes and the share of CPI(M) was 1.02 per cent.
However, the compilation of vote percentages is not similar to the straight methodology adopted for the assembly and parliamentary elections. Here, it has to be borne in mind that there are multiple votes for individual voters and the percentages need not be a direct and correct reflection of the relative influence of political parties.
The people’s anger against the DMK in particular and the UPA partners in the state was very much palpable even before the elections, and the results confirm that the anger has not subsided a wee bit. In between, by-election took place for the Trichy west assembly constituency where the erstwhile DMK minister K N Nehru was defeated with an increased margin – up from 7,000 to 14,000. This was a clear expression of the electorate’s mind that any lenience shown for the DMK would lead to annulment of the land grab cases filed against many of its leading functionaries in various districts. The results of the local elections confirm that the people voted for the AIADMK in order to punish the DMK, and hence the massive victory for the former.
After the declaration of the results, the media, especially the vernacular print media, have been expressing their fond wish to have bipolar politics in the state. They fail to realise that this will not be in favour of democratic polity, as is being purveyed by the media. The mainstream parties, national and regional --- of course with the exception of the Left --- indulged in distribution of money and articles to purchase votes. While the Election Commission could not curb it, the media too did not highlight such acts.
Despite their tall claims to the contrary, the Congress and PMK could not even to retain many of their pockets. The MDMK, which gave a skip to the assembly elections, made its presence felt this time. An unhealthy outcome of these elections is that the BJP could independently win about 1.35 per cent votes by whipping up communal politics and polarising the caste Hindu votes.
In these polls, the CPI(M) has won the chairmanship of the municipalities at Kuzhithurai and Sivagangai which falls in the parliamentary constituency of the union home minister P Chidambaram, and of five town panchayats. Besides, the CPI(M) candidates have won in three corporation wards, 20 municipal wards, 101 town panchayat wards, two district council wards and 25 panchayat union council wards. It has also won more than a hundred gram panchayat president posts.
The CPI(M) and the Congress were the two parties which had released their own manifestoes for the local bodies’ elections.
For more than three weeks, cadres of the CPI(M) enthusiastically took their politics to the people. About the local bodies’ elections, the party highlighted the following issues in its campaign --- more power to local bodies, allocation of more funds in the budget, resolution of local issues like water, roads, sanitation, health etc. The issues of social justice and rights of women were also taken up in the electoral battle. Many youngsters, new faces, downtrodden, women and dalits were in the contest and the campaign displayed their vigorous involvement in the local bodies’ elections.
The CPI(M) has been in the forefront of demanding regular elections to the local bodies, while the two major Dravidian parties refused to hold elections during the pre-Panchayat Raj Act’ era (1992). Now this was the fourth time in a row that elections were conducted and the CPI(M) is conducting a powerful campaign for democratisation of and more powers to the local bodies. During the last elections (2006), when the DMK, then the ruling party, trampled upon the democratic values and indulged in large scale violence and booth capturing, it was the CPI(M) which approached the High Court to get re-elections ordered. None can forget that strictures were passed against the DMK government by the highest court in the state. In the constituencies the CPI(M) won last time, it gave clean and corruption free administration and set high standards for others. This time too, the Left and the CPI(M) in particular conducted a powerful campaign among the public, highlighting the role of the local bodies in delivering the much needed social infrastructure for the common man. The struggle for these demands will continue with whatever victory the party has achieved in the latest local elections in the state.
Post-election, meeting at Chennai on October 22, the Tamilnadu state secretariat of the CPI(M) conveyed thanks to the voters of the state for their support to the DMDK-CPI(M) alliance in the local body elections.
The CPI(M) has conveyed its heartiest greetings to the candidates of the DMDK-CPI(M) alliance, to those of the CPI, and to the people of Tamilnadu who voted for this alliance, and to the rank and file of these parties.
The CPI(M) said those elected chairmen and representatives on behalf of the party would present a fair, transparent and corruption free administration. The CPI(M) congratulated all those elected to the local bodies in this election.
The state secretariat also urged the state government to guarantee the functioning of the local bodies in a fair and transparent manner, besides providing more powers and funds to these local bodies.