In a much-needed morale booster for the DMK, the party swept the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu, while arch-rival AIADMK managed to pull off wins in nine of the 22 Assembly seats that went for bypolls, virtually ensuring its continuance in power till 2021.
Another key feature of the outcome is the relegation of Kamal Haasan's fledgeling Makkal Needhi Maiam and AIADMK rival T T V Dhinakaran's Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam to the status of spoilers.
The DMK-led front, which faced the Lok Sabha polls under a new nomenclature "Secular Progressive Alliance," appears set to win in 36 of the 38 constituencies in Tamil Nadu.
In Chidambaram LS seat, the prospects of VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan (DMK ally) and ruling AIADMK's nominee P Chandrasekar is on a swing as they alternate to lead with slender margins round after round.
For the AIADMK, its candidate (son of Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam) P Raveendranathkumar in Theni is set to post the victory.
The M K Stalin-led party had eight allies, including the Congress, which won the lone Parliamentary seat in Puducherry as well. The DMK chief said it was a "resounding victory" given to his party led alliance by the people of Tamil Nadu.
"In the next five years, we will work hard to fulfil the promises made and protect the interest of our state," he said. Though trends point to a DMK win in as many as 13 assembly seats, a clear cut possibility of victory in nine seats for AIADMK's has cemented its position in the Tamil Nadu assembly, where it was previously in a precarious situation. The official declaration of the results are awaited.
Three AIADMK MLAs had sided with Dhinakaran and the stand of two other allies who had won in 2016 on the ruling party's Two Leaves symbol had been a question mark.
Officially, though the AIADMK has 114 MLAs, including the Speaker, the stand of these five legislators had virtually brought down the strength of the ruling party to 109.
Now that the party has won nine seats, the ruling party sources indicated that the five dissident legislators would prefer to sail with the government. With or without the support of these five MLAs, the AIADMK has a simple majority of 118 legislators.
Still, the outcome of a case pending in the Supreme Court over 11 AIADMK MLAs, including O Panneerselvam voting against the government in 2017 may have a bearing on the stability of the incumbent regime in Tamil Nadu.
The AIADMK garnered a vote share of 18.53 and 38.54 percent in the Lok Sabha and Assembly by-elections respectively. Its principal rival, the DMK posted an impressive 32.81 percent and 44.87 percent in Parliamentary and Assembly by polls.
Dhinakaran's party caused a significant split in votes in several Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies, eroding the victory prospects of AIADMK.
For instance, in Periyakulam Assembly constituency, while DMK was leading by bagging about 44.83 per cent votes, AIADMK and Dhinakaran's candidate K Kathirkamu had scored 34.48 and 13.84 percent votes respectively. Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam also has cut into the vote share of the Dravidian majors.
Its nominee had a 11.95 percent votes at Perambur Assembly seat here. At Aravakkurichi, where Haasan had made the controversial "Hindu extremist," remark, could garner only about 0.8 per cent votes and 2.12 percent in Sivaganga Lok Sabha poll, as per EC data at 10.45 PM.
Besides being a shot in the arm for AIADMK, the bypoll win in nine seats is seen by party workers as an endorsement of the leadership of Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam in the post-J Jayalalithaa era. The debacle in Lok Sabha polls, however, has made the overall outcome bittersweet for the ruling party.Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy Panneerselvam said the bypoll 'results' showed that only the AIADMK had the locus standi to govern Tamil Nadu and invited party workers yet again who had switched to the Dhinakaran camp, to return to the parent outfit. "We will continue to provide good governance in tune with the expectations of the people," they said.