RK Nagar by-poll, a prelude to assembly elections
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has won the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar by-poll with a thumping margin of nearly 1.50 lakh votes, raising party’s hope that it would serve as a precursor to the 2016 Assembly elections.
Campaigning in north Chennai on June 22 brimmed with several thousand supporters, Ms. Jayalalithaa claimed that victory in the by-election – which was widely expected – would pave way for the AIADMK to emerge victorious in the next assembly elections and retain power.If Chief Minister Jayalalithaa returns to power in the 2016 elections – something that is also contingent on the outcome of Karnataka’s petition to Supreme Court – she will be the first Chief Minister in three decades, after her political mentor M.G. Ramachandran, to have two successive terms as Chief Minister.
In other words, she will make history. However, Tamil Nadu’s electoral history makes this ambition a tough one to achieve given that by-election outcomes have characteristically been different from those of general elections.
This is clearly evidenced by the outcome of the the Pennagaram by-poll in 2010 in which the AIADMK lost deposit but emerged victorious in the following general election in 2011.
Tamil Nadu has seldom seen a party in power lose a by-election in the last 20 years, except in the case of Mangalore (reserved) where in 2004 the opposition DMK candidate won after VCK leader Thol. Thirumavalavan resigned.
Different ball game
While the AIADMK’s victory in the June 27 by-poll was no surprise, more so when most opposition parties except the CPI stayed out of the fray, the assembly elections may be a different ballgame altogether.
With some in political circles speculating a rainbow coalition against her and the pending outcome of the Karnataka government’s appeal at Supreme Court challenging the Karnataka High Court’s verdict acquitting her, it may be premature to see the results of a by-poll in a 2.5 lakh-electorate as heralding an assembly election victory.
While the ruling DMK achieved huge victories in Tirumangalam and Pennagaram bypolls in 2009 and 2010, the party was routed in the 2011 general elections. In fact, it could not even win enough seats to become the principal opposition, something it had to make way for the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam.
Between 2001 and 2006 the AIADMK has won almost all by-elections with a thumping margin only to be pushed to the Opposition benches in 2006. Since 2011 also, the ruling party has won every by-election.
Essentially, anti-incumbency mood and electoral arithmetic have played key roles in the Tamil Nadu electorate alternating between the two Dravidian parties. A by-poll has rarely shaken this trend.