"I thank the people of RK Nagar for giving us this victory on behalf of the people of TN. I am very happy, I thank the 1.5 crore cadre of my party. In another three months this government will fall."
A confident TTV Dhinakaran casually made this declaration at the Madurai airport even as initial trends from the counting centre showed that the votes in RK Nagar were cast in his favour. Dhinakaran then went on to gain a massive lead of 40,000 votes and win one of the most intensely contested bye-elections in the state's recent history.
Talking to TNM after he had collected his certificate from the counting centre, a smiling Dhinakaran said this victory was merely delayed and should have come in April. He further dismissed the idea that the people's loyalty was associated to the two leaves symbol, and said that it would be the candidate who stood that will matter in elections henceforth. His camp had further claimed the significance of the two leaves symbol will soon disappear.
But some political analysts and experts who have been observing this election closely are of the opinion that the result of the RK Nagar bye-poll, which saw AIADMK come second and DMK third, is merely an aberration.
Senior journalist Ramesh who had visited RK Nagar thrice ahead of the elections says, "This election neither shows the strength of the TTV faction nor the DMK. It is a mere aberration. It is definitely a result of the Election Commission's failure to curb the distribution of money."
There have been multiple allegations against TTV Dhinakaran and Madhusudhanan regarding bribing the voters of the constituency. Apart from a total of over Rs 30 lakh being seized, 15 persons were remanded to judicial custody and 122 taken into preventive custody. Despite this, residents brazenly admitted to TNM that they had received bribes from the TTV Dhinakaran camp and from the AIADMK.
"The constituency is basically an impoverished one. The people of RK Nagar have made money merely by going as part of processions with these politicians. In addition to this, amounts ranging from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 were distributed," says Ramesh. "Stalin, according to insiders in the party, had decided to participate in the election fairly. This has affected them and several members within the party didn't agree with him," he adds.
But the senior journalist believes that if the same election were to be conducted in Mylapore or T Nagar, the results could have been in favour of the DMK.
Gnani, a political analyst however says that TTV Dhinakaran can replicate this success anywhere if he continues to use the money power in his possession. "We can only hope that this is an aberration. A T Nagar or Mylapore is not a rich man's territory either. He can easily win if the Election Commission continues to give them a free rein," he says. "DMK's loss meanwhile can be clearly attributed to the fact that they did not distribute money," he adds.
All the experts however believe that the AIADMK had a very slim chance at victory and the seat should have been an easy win for Stalin. RK Radhakrishnan, a senior journalist with Frontline says that the DMK indeed has a lot of soul searching to do.
"The DMK began the Tirumangalam model of money distribution and now when they suddenly stop, people are obviously angry. They could have at least announced that they are taking a moral stand against distribution of money and won't indulge in the corrupt practice henceforth," he explains.
"As for TTV Dhinakaran, it is hard to says if he can continue this victorious streak. To put so much money and effort into one constituency is okay, but will other candidates from his party get the same support?" he asks.