Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa Assembly polls elections
Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa Assembly polls electionsReuters file

It would be interesting to know which way Tamil Nadu's 5.79 crore voters exercise their franchise on May 16. But actor Vijayakanth's Desia Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) deciding to go it alone in the polls seems to have enthused the two principal Dravidian parties – the AIADMK and the DMK â€“ as both see the move benefiting them. 

"Ending months of suspense, DMDK leader Vijayakanth Thursday announced that his party will contest the forthcoming state Assembly polls alone," the Indian Express reported last week.

It is pertinent that Vijayakanth's DMDK was wooed by all political parties, but without any success.

Tamil Nadu will witness single-day voting this time also; while the counting of votes will be done on May 19 to decide who occupies Fort.St. George, the seat of power in the state. Last time (in 2011), elections were held on April 13 and the counting took place on May 13. 

The elections to the 234 assembly constituencies will be held amid intense speculation as to how the DMDK factor will affect the fortunes of the two principal contenders â€“ the AIADMK and the DMK. Incumbent Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's AIADMK contested the polls in alliance with the DMDK in 2011. 

Advantage AIADMK?

Vijaykanth's decision is being seen as a tactical way of helping the AIADMK, the Indian Express report quoted a Tamil Nadu leader as saying. 

"If he had struck a deal with the PWA or the DMK, it would have been a tough challenge for the AIADMK. But now he is playing spoilsport and making things difficult for everyone, or in fact making it easier for the ruling party to win with a slight margin," said a senior leader from the People's Welfare Alliance (PWA), which comprises the CPI, CPM, Vaiko's MDMK and the VCK, a Dalit party. 

The acknowledgement of the DMDK spoiling the chances of M Karunanidhi's DMK combine came straight from the AIADMK. The DMK stitched a tie-up with the Congress last month.

"If at all, we only have a slight lead on the main rival DMK. The DMDK contesting the election alone will help us because it will split anti-AIADMK votes, especially in Kongu belt and the non-Vanniyar votes in northern districts. So we are going to win this election, even if it is going to be by a slight margin," the daily quoted a senior AIADMK leader as saying.

Benefits us, says DMK

The DMK had an opposite take on Vijayakant's DMDK going solo. "He will eat into Amma's votes. He will also spoil the chances of Jayalalithaa getting votes from Kongu belt — Dalit-Arundhatiyars and Telugu speaking Naidus, a community he himself belongs to," a DMK leader said. 

No-BJP-DMDK alliance

On Monday, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), which does not have a presence in the 234-strong Assembly, ruled out the possibility of a pre-poll alliance with the DMDK.

"The DMDK's decision to go it alone has shocked the DMK-Congress alliance. It has no way affected the morale of BJP cadres. We are not holding official talks with the DMDK after that," the Hindu quoted state BJP president Tamilisai Soundarrajan as saying on Sunday. 

Meanwhile, leaders of the AIADMK alliance met Jayalalithaa on Monday to "pledge" their support to her, according to another report in the daily. 

Besides, it would also be interesting to see which side the state's film fraternity leans; both the principal Dravidian parties, besides the DMDK, have their followers in Kollywood (as the Tamil Nadu film industry is referred to).