It was a forgettable day in the office for the popular Tamil actor and Desiya Morpoku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) chief Vijayakanth, who lost both his seat and deposit. And worse, his party, which has played an important role in the two previous assembly elections, drew a blank.
Vijayakanth, a two-time MLA (2006 and 2011), was contesting from the Ulundurpettai constituency in Tamil Nadu’s Vilipuram district. He could manage only 34,447 votes which saw him finish a distant third. The seat was won by the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (AIADMK) candidate R Kumaraguru, who polled 81,973 votes. His nearest rival was the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) candidate GR Vasanthavel, who managed 77,809 votes to finish second.
According to the Election Commission rules, any defeated candidate who fails to get one-sixth of the valid polls in the constituency is liable lose his deposit.
The DMDK has long been vying for the space of a third force in Tamil Nadu politics. It made a spectacular entry in 2006 when it garnered over 10% vote share in its debut election. Though it didn’t translate into seats back then, Vijayakant was there to stay. Five years later, in 2011, the party went into the elections with a pre-poll alliance with the AIADMK. Vijayakanth himself contested from Rishivandhiyam and won with a margin of over 30,000 votes.
This time, it could translate all those votes into seats and played a key role in propelling the J Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK to a sweep. The party won 29 seats. However, in 2012, the alliance would come to an end.
This time around, while the DMDK certainly flirted with the two prominent Dravidian party-led alliances in Tamil Nadu, it belatedly ditched the idea and joined a third-front of sorts called the “People’s Welfare Front". The Front as a whole, it must be said, drew a blank in 2016, with 48 seats its constituents held previously wrested by the DMK and the AIADMK.