The polling was higher this time in the seats of C Vijayabaskar, K C Karupannan, M R Vijayabaskar and R Kamaraj while it dropped marginally in the seats of chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, K P Anbalagan, K A Sengottaiyan, V Saroja, K C Veeramani, O S Manian and Sevvoor S Ramachandran (to just below 80%).
Conventional wisdom is that a high turnout heralds a vote for change. But that need not apply in this case, as there is hardly any change from last time. Several ministers also said they had nurtured their constituencies and there was no evidence of any anti-incumbecy.
Palacode in Dharmapuri, where higher education minister K P Anbalagan is seeking election for the fifth time in a row, saw the highest voter turnout of 87.33%.
“There is no anti-incumbency. I had set up exclusive teams of ten members each to canvas 100 voters and get them to booths on polling day. Amma and EPS have done a lot for my seat,” Anbalagan told TOI.
The DMK said it would be a repeat of the 2019 general election when it got maximum votes in Palacode and Villupuram segments, which helped defeat PMK’s Anbumani S Ramadoss in Dharmapuri and S Vadivel Ravanan in Villupuram.
In Thondamuthur, Udumalaipet, Nannilam and Jolarpet, where S P Velumani, K Radhakrishnan, R Kamaraj and K C Veeramani are seeking re-election, a sizeable Muslim population plays a crucial role.
Transport minister M R Vijayabaskar is pitted against his arch-rival and DMK candidate V Senthil Balaji in Karur, the seat that made headlines for bribing voters.
“A functionary was deployed for 25 families to continuously do a follow-up until the polling day. Aged people were brought to the booth,” the minister said.
Health minister C Vijayabaskar said the ‘energy’ on the ground was high this time and his Viralimalai, a rural segment, retained the voter turnout of 2016.
After the passing away of Jayalalithaa, ministers had emerged as regional satraps and in Thirumangalam and Thondamuthur, all three factors — caste, nurturing as well as mobilisation — played a role, said R Subash of Forum for Real Social Justice and Inclusion.
Political analyst N Sathya Moorthy said the argument of anti-incumbency and high voter turnout was no longer valid, given the general trend of cash-for-votes in the state for the past two decades.
“If high poll percentage helps the incumbent ministers, it may be due to the welfare measures launched by the government, their accessibility to the constituents and of course, the inevitable caste factor.”
There is no anti-incumbency. I had set up exclusive teams of ten members each to canvas 100 voters and get them to booths on polling day