Home States Andhra/Telangana Dhinakaran’s victory in R.K. Nagar bypoll made possible by combination of strategies

Dhinakaran’s victory in R.K. Nagar bypoll made possible by combination of strategies


(G.N.S.) Dt. 26
T.T.V. Dhinakaran’s emphatic victory in the recent R.K. Nagar bypoll was made possible by a combination of strategies including intense booth-level campaigning involving women, exploiting the “intra-party rivalries” within the AIADMK, and the deployment of seasoned, grassroots leaders in charge of the election work.
The Dhinakaran camp divided the constituency of about 2.28 lakh electors into 14 zones and each leader was given one zone to look after, says Thanga Tamilselvan, disqualified legislator from Andipatti, adding that leaders such as V. Senthil Balaji, P. Palaniappan and P. Vetrivel were fully involved in the election work.
Among other strategies adopted were consistent caricaturing of gaffes committed by senior members of the ruling party, providing space to younger members to make their mark and creating a “perception” among substantial number of minority community voters that the AIADMK is in the “grip” of the BJP.
The presence of Mr. Vetrivel, district secretary of the North Chennai (north) unit of the party, has made a difference to the campaign of Mr. Dhinakaran, the workers say. Most of the party members in the constituency are loyal to him and he could mobilise at least 90% of the avid party cadres to work for Mr. Dhinakaran. They added that since the rebel leader kept appointing his trusted lieutenants as office-bearers, the organisational structure has remained in place despite Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam controlling the party elsewhere.
Mr. Thanga Tamilselvan emphasized that the by-election was “a matter of life and death for all of us including Mr. Dhinakaran. We knew from the beginning that we had to work in a focussed manner. It was this factor which guaranteed our success.”
Those who worked as volunteers for Mr. Dhinakaran say they were specifically asked to “demoralise” the rival camp with a variety of innovative strategies.
“If a booth had 800 votes, we tried to engage at least 300 voters and involve them in campaigning. We started campaigning aggressively, even managing to get a huge crowd to cheer Mr. Dhinakaran when he filed the nomination early this month. The idea was to show strength in numbers. Imagine an opponent walking into a street where there are 300 people standing with cookers in their hands?” said a worker.
The workers had to find a way to tell the voters that the “money will come and reach them”. A resident of R.K. Nagar claimed that he and his neighbours were all given a ₹20 note each, whose serial number was apparently noted down. “We have been told that the serial numbers will then be cross-referenced and money will be paid after the bypoll,” he claimed.
Mr. Dhinakaran, however, rubbished the charge and questioned the logic behind giving Rs. 20 notes. “Would a mere assurance not be enough?” he wondered. According to him, party workers, who came from outside and camped in the constituency during the campaign, settled their dues to restaurants by paying through ₹20 notes after the authorities “unfairly seized” even “small amounts of cash” from functionaries.

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