The DMK has performed well in the general election and will get more seats than its rival, the AIADMK, in the by-elections. But this victory won't help them, reports A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com.
When the ruling AIADMK -- which has the largest committed vote bank in Tamil Nadu, followed by the DMK -- tied up with the BJP for the Lok Sabha election, it committed political harakiri in the eyes of the Tamils.
A large section of its supporters were disappointed at this alliance with the right wing party. And they conveyed their opinion clearly -- the AIADMK is leading in only 2 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
In the 22 seats that are up for grabs in the assembly by-polls, it is leading in just 9.
At the entrance to the AIADMK office, which had a considerable police presence, a group of women in brightly coloured saris were mourning.
"We have done so badly in the parliamentary elections," one of them said.
"Don't worry," a man comforted her. "We are winning enough assembly seats and we are going to be in power till 2021."
But she was not appeased. "You know why we lost? We lost because those in power are not working for the party; they are busy enriching themselves," she alleged.
The few television reporters in the tent set up for the media looked bored; their cameras, idle.
At the back of the building, a huge screen displayed the Tamil Nadu results. A murmur of conversation rose from those watching, and discussing, the party's poor performance.
A party member who had kept vigil outside the Apollo hospital during J Jayalalithaa's fatal illness stood out in the crowd. His huge moustache and the massive rings adorned with his late leader's images always attract attention.
"During elections," he confided, "you are supposed to look after the cadres by giving them a daily allowance. The money that is distributed to voters is a separate story; nobody has any idea what happened to it."
"So both the cadres and the voters were disappointed."
"In Ottapidaram," the AIADMK member alleged, "we cknew that TTV (Dhinakaran; he launched his own party, the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, last year after being expelled from the AIADMK in 2017) was distributing Rs 1,000 per vote. We had told them (the bosses) to give Rs 2,000, but nothing was done. Our people also said we will give Rs 1,000. Obviously, this was all talk and the distribution did not happen as planned."
"The cadres will not work on an empty stomach. And since no one worked, how do you expect the party to win? But TTV has also not won. I don't know what went wrong," he sighed and sat down.
Standing up again, he declared, "So what if they (DMK) win 40 MP seats? What are they going to do? Stand in Parliament and beat their chests and shout, 'We are MPs?' They cannot do anything because they are not part of the government."
That thought made him happier.
At the DMK office, the front lawn, the paths, the hall in the ground floor and the car park were packed. Comparatively, however, there were fewer cops here.
A few youngsters were arguing about where they should set off the huge box of fire crackers that they were carrying. The DMK alliance is leading in 36 of the state's 38 Lok Sabha seats that went to the polls (the last, Vellore, had its election countermanded due to electoral malpractices).
Small stalls had popped up on the lawn and you could buy channa, samosas and other snacks.
An elderly man explained, "The MPs who are winning are in their constituencies. After they win, they have to sign and collect their certificates. Then, they will come here and we will see some action."
Party leader M K Stalin was absent as well. "He will only come when we know where we stand because the media is waiting to ask him what's next for the party."
Most of the DMK cadres looked worried about the assembly bypoll results.
"We are leading in only 13 seats, which is not enough to topple the government. And the central government is not ours, so it is pointless. We will just have to wait until 2021," said a young man.
Dhinakaran, who beat the ruling AIADMK in the R K Nagar by-election, has not been able to impact this election. "At that time, he caught the ruling party by surprise. This time, they were prepared for him," said a DMK party member.
An AMMK party worker had a different story.
"He should have distributed money using the party workers who had joined him. But he did not trust them," the man alleged.
"In my village, they told me to distribute to only half our supporters. I refused because, when you do that, the other half will definitely vote against you."