The PMK right from the beginning has been clear in its stance that it will align with only those parties that accept its youth wing leader as the CM candidate. Though there was no response from other parties to the PMK’s proposal, it did not deter PMK from going ahead to test its luck at the hustings.
Political observers feel that Anbumani, the campaign face of the party, is clear in his path and has, in fact, set his eyes on the 2021 elections. “He is preparing the ground for the next Assembly election,” says S Ganesan, a veteran political observer. His campaign speeches have started making an impact as even women voters were now flocking to his meetings.
His clear views on prohibition in the state and his ideas on agricultural development were being received well, Ganesan said and added that the moot question was how many of his party candidates would make it to Fort St George.
Though the PMK has been conducting election meetings and conferences in different styles to woo the voters, the party’s footing in the delta districts, particularly in Tiruchy, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Karur has not been up to the party’s expectations, political observers opine.
“Needless to say, the PMK’s election manifestos have always been impressive. Leaders like Anbumani and AK Moorthy, during their stint as union ministers, had made substantial contributions to the state. However, critics would immediately point out that it was northern districts, where the PMK has sizeable presence, that benefited much and the delta districts were given a raw deal. And people still view PMK as a ‘caste-based’ party,” said AV Gopala Desikan, a political observer from Karur district.
Swamimalai Vimalnathan, a farmers association representative and a political observer from Thanjavur district, said that the PMK should strengthen its base in the central districts so that it could get a firm foothold in the delta region. “Some areas like Kumbakonam, Thiruvidaimarudur and Papanasam (North) in Thanjavur district, which have a concentration of Vanniyars should be its immediate focus,” he felt.
Thanigaivel, who has been a member of both the Dravidian parties and an octogenarian, said that in PMK’s maiden election in 1991, the party opened its account with one seat and in the subsequent election in 1996, they fought in alliance with the then Congress (Tiwari), which was led by late Vazhapadi K Ramamoorthy in Tamil Nadu.
Later they switched to various alliances and got sizable number of seats. Interestingly, up to 2011, they have been polling a decent and consistent share of 5 to 5.9 per cent of the total votes, Thanigaivel felt.
“As long as the PMK continued to be part of any alliance, the electorate would not accept them as a frontrunner or a party which has the capabilities to rule the State. Moreover, the party has to increase its presence in the core western and southern belts and I feel Anbumani is rightly doing that now,” Thanigaivel, who has been part of election strategy teams of Dravidian parties, said.