Besides, the DMK’s perceived laxity in the choice of candidates, there was a recurring allegation from many quarters that local cadres in Palacodde were “bought off”.

By losing to the AIADMK-PMK combine in all five Assembly constituencies in Dharmapuri district, the DMK appeared to have forfeited its past gains in the region. Its sitting MLAs were defeated by the PMK in Pennagaram and Dharmapuri.

If the arithmetic that banked on the AIADMK-PMK voter base worked for the alliance, it appeared that the victory was sealed by the Kongu Vellalars, the second largest community in Harur (Reserved), Palacodde and Paapireddipatty) constituencies. This was contrary to the prediction that this community would tip the scales in favour of the DMK, given their resentment for not having representation in any constituency under the AIADMK and the belief that the Kongu Makkal Desiya Katchi, the figurative representative of the community had aligned with the DMK.

Kongu Vellalars, who constitute 15.50% next only to Vanniyars (48.30%) in Palacodde; 14.5% third only to Vanniyars (35.1%) and Adidravidars (23.1%) in Paapireddipatty and constitute 22.70% next only to Adidravidars(23.40%) in Harur (R) instead reposed their faith in the figure of the AIADMK’s Kongu Vellalar [outgoing] Chief Minister Edappadi K.Palaniswami.

Besides, the DMK’s perceived laxity in the choice of candidates, there was a recurring allegation from many quarters that local cadres in Palacodde (contested by the outgoing minister K.P.Anbalagan) were “bought off”.

Within the DMK there was resentment over renominating the two MLAs P.N.P. Inbasekaran (Pennagaram) and P.Subramani (Dharmapuri). Both were party district secretaries with a “damp” record.

The DMK had the advantage of lessons from the Lok Sabha elections that fetched it its young Lok Sabha MP Senthil Kumar, a first-timer, defeating the seasoned PMK candidate Anbumani Ramadoss only two years ago. For instance, in Pennagaram assembly segment, the DMK’s MP candidate trailed behind by only 200 votes, despite the disadvantage of the PMK-AIADMK arithmetic in Pennagaram assembly segment.

Hence, Pennagaram was “winnable”, insist sources. But Mr. Inbasekaran was done in by his over confidence, claim some in the party. If Mr. Inbasekaran played the “outsider” card on the PMK candidate G.K.Mani, he himself was a “non-resident” living in Bengaluru. It was only months before the elections did he shift not to Pennagaram but to Dharmapuri, sources pointed out.

Similarly, in Dharmapuri Mr. Subramani was perceived not to have mounted the challenge needed for a win against a ruling combine that had invested all its might, which resulted in a victory for the PMK with a thumping majority of 26,840 votes.

That there was lacunae at the district level organisation was evident even in 2019 when it lost the by-polls in Harur and Paapireddipatty. Yet, this went unaddressed, according to observers. There is also a perception of a reckonable transfer of DMK’s Vanniyar votes to the PMK and the AIADMK. The gnawing question, however, was the relevance of the 10.5 % quota for Vanniyars to the win, if it did not adequately impact the outcome in the rest of the PMK strongholds in north Tamil Nadu. The Vanniars in the west backed the party.



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