Chennai: In a closely fought contest in polls to rural civic bodies in 27 districts in Tamil Nadu, the opposition DMK and its allies emerged winners, relegating the AIADMK to the second spot.
The runner-up finish by a ruling party in local body polls is seen as a setback, but AIADMK, which came a close second overall, put up a brave face asserting the results showed the party was regaining the “love and support” of the people after being routed in Lok Sabha polls eight months ago.
The DMK said it has posted a “massive victory,” despite the ruling party’s alleged misuse of power and results showed the people’s ‘hate’ for the AIADMK.
The polls, held after a gap of eight years, is the first local body elections since the demise of the towering Dravidian leaders J. Jayalalithaa and M. Karunanidhi.
As counting of votes polled in the elections held from December 27 to 30 continued for the second consecutive day on Friday, the DMK front won 2,215 ward member posts in Panchayat unions out of the total 5,090 posts with the AIADMK bagging 2,069. Others, including smaller parties, won 517 seats.
In the opposition front, the DMK itself won 1,997, Congress 126, CPI 61 and CPI(M) 31 ward member posts while the AIADMK bagged 1,668 posts, ally PMK 224, DMDK 93 and BJP 84, according to official results made available at 9 pm on Friday. Results in 289 union seats are awaited.
In percentage terms, DMK accounted for 43.51 per cent of the panchayat union seats and the AIADMK marginally behind at 40.64 per cent.
Out of the total 515 district panchayat ward member posts, the DMK combine won 237 (DMK 215, Congress 13, CPI 7, and CPI(M) 2) while the AIADMK front emerged successful in 210 seats (AIADMK 187, PMK 16, BJP 5 and DMDK 2).
The DMK made inroads in several parts of the western region, including Chief Minister K Palaniswami’s home turf Salem district, known as the ruling party’s stronghold, while holding on to its bastions in the central and northern regions such as Tiruchirappalli, Tiruvarur and Thiruvannamalai.
Salem saw a pitched battle for the 29 district seats and the AIADMK and DMK took four each and two went to others. In the battle for 288 panchayat union seats, AIADMK was ahead with 71 seats followed by DMK’s 44 and others grabbed 51.
In deep south Kanyakumari, of the 11 district seats, AIADMK combine was ahead bagging six and the Congress won five.
Of the total 111 union seats in the district, the AIADMK front won 47 and DMK surged past with a tally of 52 seats and the 10 went to others and results are awaited for two more seats.
The results for the remainder of seats in both unions and districts are awaited and this may alter the final tally of the two camps led by Dravidian majors the AIADMK and DMK marginally.
The results have also come as a surprise for the ruling AIADMK which was confident of repeating its success in the recent bypolls to two Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu.
Some AIADMK functionaries believe the storm of protests following the passage of Citizenship Amendment Act proved to be a spoiler for them especially in areas dominated by the minorities since the party supported the bill in Parliament.
AIADMK Coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam said his party bowed to the verdict of people irrespective of the outcome.
“Whatever may be the poll results, we accept and bow to the people’s verdict,” he said.
Counting of votes for non-party based elections to 76,746 village panchayat ward member posts and 9,624 village panchayat president positions are also on.
Of the 37 districts in Tamil Nadu, five were recently created and rural civic polls were held in 27 of them.
The elected representatives will elect the chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of the district and union level local bodies.