AIADMK has made many advertisements critiquing the DMK's previous regime, focusing on allegations of land grabbing.

Edappadi Palaniswami and MK Stalin
news 2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly Election Friday, April 02, 2021 - 18:53

From appealing to voters emotionally to populating mass media with creative, tongue-in-cheek ads, the DMK and the AIADMK have gone all out to grab eyeballs ahead of the election.

While the DMK’s ads are focussing on issues faced by the people like price rise and lack of jobs, many of AIADMK’s ads are an attempt to 'remind' the voters about the DMK's previous regime. While one advertisement tells the viewers that land grabbing and lawlessness were rampant in the last DMK rule (2006-11), another advertisement says that it was during the DMK regime that the deal to explore hydrocarbons in Tamil Nadu’s fertile delta region was signed. Yet another advertisement rakes up the issue of frequent power cuts and lack of water during the DMK regime.

When TNM asked MK Stalin about the AIADMK's pitch to voters to reject the DMK based on its previous performance, he said, "When the entire opposition is united to attack the DMK – it clearly shows that we are sweeping!  You can imagine what would have been the state of affairs over the past 10 years that they don’t have enough achievements to showcase in front of the public and with an imminent defeat in front of them they are resorting to spread fake propaganda against us. My stand on law and order has been extremely clear – I have taken a pledge in Trichy as well – that I will deal with crimes and violations of laws with an iron fist."

‘Public memory is short’

The AIADMK has however gone all out and produced many ads in the same vein. Will they have an impact? Senior journalist and political observer ‘Tharasu’ Shyam says ‘no’. “People’s memory is very short,” he adds. “People don't generally vote based on ads. Ads are just for visibility. Rural constituencies in Tamil Nadu are 30-40 kms wide and deep. So these ads help in taking the visibility till the last mile,” he explains.

Adding that if reminding voters was going to be an effective technique, the DMK would have also resorted to highlight the 2000 conviction of Jayalalithaa and the resultant violence across the state especially in Dharmapuri, Shyam said, “AIADMK does not have an issue at hand to criticise the DMK. Hence they seem to have resorted to the 2006-11 regime of the DMK. It is true that these things are common during the polls, but if you ask me whether these will affect the voting pattern, my answer is a 100% 'No'.”

Meanwhile, A Ramasamy, Head of Department (Tamil literature) in Manonmaniam Sundaranar University and a political observer says that all ads will definitely have some impact, but the larger question remains on the degree of such impact. “All ads are targeted at reminding viewers or readers about the past. New voters who have come in the last 10 years will not know the 2006-11 situation. Only older voters will be reminded of these. But the impact will not be huge because things have changed a lot in the last ten years,” he explains.

Adding that the issues that AIADMK has chosen to highlight -- electricity, law and order etc -- are not static in nature, Ramasamy says, “Electricity or law and order issues are not stand-still issues. They change with time. Hence I am saying that the impact on the DMK will not be huge because of these ads.”

Past vs Present

Ramasamy further points out that the DMK, on the other hand, is targeting the AIADMK on present-day issues like the fuel price increase. “That will always work because people are more concerned about their life at present and not what happened 10 years ago. AIADMK has nothing of that sort to target the DMK with because the DMK has not been in power for ten years. In a contest between the past and the present, the present will only win,” he says.

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