The constituency that was previously held by the former Chief Minister, Late J. Jayalalithaa had been up for grabs post her unfortunate demise. A contest that would have been a cakewalk became a burning topic of discussion and debate in the media owing to bouts of fierce infighting among the party members. Furthermore, Election Commission had canceled the elections on grounds of malpractice over allegations of rampant distribution of money for votes.
While there is a given amount of surprise over the decisive victory of TTV Dinakaran, the hitherto Deputy General Secretary of the AIADMK and a former MP who contested as an independent candidate after being expelled by the current leadership of the party, an aware reading of the political landscape would make one wonder less about the victory.
To put things in perspective, TTV Dinakaran has won a constituency that had been an AIADMK stronghold for a considerable amount of time now. Over 77% of the polled votes in constituency had been secured by TTV and Madhusudhanan together which shows that the constituency is an AIADMK stronghold.
Dinakaran defeated Madhusudhanan of the AIADMK with a margin of over 40,000 votes by securing 50.32% of the votes polled. The party had held the seat from 1991 (Madhusudhanan was the MLA then) till now with the constituency slipping away just once in the 1996 election.
The creation of a void is a reality if we were to consider the aftermath of the former chief minister's death. However, the nature of the void and who can fill is a case in point. The DMK and the AIADMK are parties that are known for their organisational structure and their connect with the voters right from the days of the formation of the parties.
Though the AIADMK is regarded as a party with few or even no face other than Jayalilathaa, the base level leaders continue to be a force to reckon with. This could also be seen in surveys conducted by online media channels especially the YouTubers' community. The voters clearly expressed their support to Dinakaran or Madhusudhanan. However, age was a factor that was not in favour of Madhusudhanan in spite of a good image on the whole.
At this juncture, we need to understand that the DMK and the AIADMK are not substitutes for one another in each other's strongholds. They are both strong parties and therefore for a candidate of DMK to convince the voters of an AIADMK stronghold is very unlikely. A small digression to put things in perspective could be the case of the Congress party across the country. While the BJP claims to bring in a 'Congress Mukt Bharat' (Congress-Free India) it is not even possible in a State like Gujarat where the Congress held its share of seats even while BJP's popularity was peaking.
Age was a factor that was not in favour of Madhusudhanan in spite of a good image on the whole.
Was it just the age or are we looking at something: The making of an inextricable noose and its outcome.
From the days following the death of Jayalalithaa to the days of the campaign the political landscape witnessed so many bumps across parties.
A few of them are the charade pulled by OPS in the premises of Jayalalithaa's memorial, the split between Sasikala's faction and OPS' faction, the episode of confining MLAs in a resort outside Chennai, the conviction and the subsequent imprisonment of Sasikala, TTV Dinakaran's appointment as the party's Deputy General Secretary, the infighting within the Sasikala faction and the subsequent ousting of Dinakaran, and a truce between the EPS and OPS faction where the latter lost the credibility that he had earned in the immediate past.
Others are the disqualification of the MLAs who supported Dinakaran by the Speaker, the moratorium on the use of the party's official election symbol, first round of elections where the BJP was vocal and active with even film stars like Rajnikanth seen as the ones supporting them (while it might not be true), the protests of Tamil Nadu's farmers over distress and the hydrocarbon projects and the apathy of State and Central governments, the death of a girl over the issue of NEET and the indifference of the governments or leaders in this regard and in the recent past the Mersal movie issue over the implementation of GST.
While the list surely is huge, it is not exhaustive. Moreover, did all of these cause Dinakaran's victory? Maybe. Did Dinakaran have a role to play? A little. However one can surely say that the events did influence the people of Tamil Nadu on various fronts and drove them to come to a few conclusions on a few fronts.
One of these is a strong sense of skepticism (if not hate) towards the BJP. A reason in this context is the fact that the BJP did have the ability to influence all of the aforementioned events. Did it or did it not, is another question that is extensive in itself. Having said that the faction in power is seen as one that is controlled by the BJP. To add to this an AIADMK minister recently went on record to claim that Modi is on 'our' (his faction) side, and there was nothing to worry. While the popularity of the PM is surely on a high, it doesn't seem like that in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Moreover, did all of these cause Dinakaran's victory? Maybe. Did Dinakaran have a role to play? A little.
What about TTV Dinakaran?
Amidst all of this, TTV Dinakaran is one person who was seen as a person who stood his ground and did not digress much from the beginning. While his unpopularity on a few parameters is a reality, his voters could see through that because of the manner in which the others changed their sides, shifted goalposts and even tried to send him to prison where he got to play the victim card. A case in point is the composure with which he handled the attacks. A few people in the area expressed their affinity over his composure.
While the judgments over his cases will be the prerogative of the courts, on the aspect of popular support, one can surely say, he has earned quite some. Even on a constituency level, which I feel is the basic parameter to judge the outcome of an election, he is a popular personality who ushers hope to the people of RK Nagar for, they have not been happy with constituency development works after the death of Jayalalithaa.
TTV Dinakaran is one person who was seen as a person who stood his ground and did not digress much from the beginning.
In other words considering the inclination to vote for AIADMK when given a choice between DMK and AIADMK, together with the perception of the AIADMK being controlled by the BJP, the voters decided to vote for TTV Dinakaran for they could not identify themselves with the others and a good chunk identified themselves with him.
About the allegations of distribution of money, the Election Commission of India and the judiciary are empowered to take corrective action. While one cannot deny the proliferation of the act, just citing it as a reason for one's victory does not seem plausible.
On the contrary, with everyone offering money, the act is losing its ability to influence elections with time. Irrespective of its ability, the act of exchanging money for votes is an evil that poses a severe threat to the vibrance and health of a democracy. The concerned stakeholders (including voters) need to reform and be reformed at the earliest.
When I see a few people calling the voters stupid or a block that has been bought, I respect the right to have and voice out such opinions. However, I also urge them to look at things with the nuance they deserve to be looked at with. Tamil Nadu is regarded to have one of the most aware voters and the politicisation has been both strong and pervasive across all the sections of the society – thanks to the Dravidian movement. At this juncture, the win of Dinakaran is not a shocker but a verdict that the voting community of a constituency had given in the light of the nuances that the said landscape is subject to.
At this juncture, the win of Dinakaran is not a shocker but a verdict that the voting community of a constituency had given in the light of the nuances that the said landscape is subject to.
(The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of HuffPost India. Any omissions or errors are the author's and HuffPost India does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.)