HE political situation changed dramatically in Tamil Nadu even as the Outlook-DB-MRAS poll in our April 10 issue hit the stands. The split in the state Congress, with the G.K. Moopanar faction joined hands with the DMK, is likely to have major repercussions on the overall Lok Sabha and assembly results.
A followup poll, conducted three days after the split, showed a drastic downswing in the AIADMK-Congress combine's fortunes. The revised figure, juxtaposed with the earlier estimate, brings out the extent of the 'swing' created by the split.
It's early days yet and the second poll, conducted between April 2 and 4 in four parliamentary constituencies by DB MRAS, only throws an interim figure—an indication of which way the wind is blowing. If the 'hawa' in favour of the DMK-led combine continues—with Rajnikant also being a factor, they could prosper further.
In our March poll, we had seen a 7 per cent swing away from the Congress/ AIADMK combine towards the DMK. However, this would not have been sufficient to erode the very strong support the alliance had received in the 1991 elections. The first poll indicated the Congress/AIADMK alliance would still pull 35 out of 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu.
Now the picture is somewhat different. The swing away from the Congress/ AIADMK to the DMK/Moopanar Congress alliance is 15 per cent. It varies by constituency, being higher in Coimbatore and Madras than it is in Krishnagiri and Mayuram. A surprising feature is that the swing is near-identical among the rural and urban electorates.
At current levels, the Congress/AIADMK combine would lose another 10 seats, bringing down its tally to 25 and pushing up the DMK/Moopanar Congress tally to 14. If the trend continues, there are nine more seats—where the Congress-AIADMK combine currently has an edge—which can fall the other way. This would change the situation quite dramatically (see chart). It would mean a drop of 19 seats in the Congress' tally nationwide. The first opinion poll had given the Congress an edge of just 21 seats over the BJP overall. Deduct 19, and you get a cliff-hanger.
Traditionally, Tamil Nadu has cast its Lok Sabha vote in favour of stability, and its assembly vote to whichever party is deemed 'better' for the state. The Congress was seen as a symbol of stability. This time, however, the voting intention for the assembly and Lok Sabha elections are similar—a pattern not found in our first poll. This would indicate that the voters are disheartened with the Congress AIADMK alliance.
Again, in the assembly elections, the tidings bode well for the DMK/Moopanar alliance. The swing is 17 per cent away from the AIADMK-Congress. In terms of seats, the DMK may finally pocket 150.