PWF: Potential Spoilers or Kingmakers?

Author: Krishnaswamy (@kristanjore) & Politicalbaaba (@politicalbaaba)
Tamil Nadu is witnessing a five cornered contest this time with AIADMK+, DMK+, NDA, PWF & PMK contesting separately. For the first time in past few years the main regional parties PMK, DMDK, MDMK are contesting independently and not as part of any alliance. Tamil Nadu elections has been a game of alliances and regional parties including Congress have allied with either AIADML or DMK led fronts and have also hopped from one alliance to another in different elections as seen below.
Party 1984 1989 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011 2016
PMK (Ramadoss) NA NA Alone Alone AIADMK DMK DMK Alone
BJP Alone NA NA NA DMK Alone Alone Alone
Tamil Manila Congress (TMC) NA NA NA DMK AIADMK NA NA PWF
This is likely to split anti-AIADMK votes and may help Jayalalitha break the trend and return back as TN CM.
1. PMK
PMK, the Vanniyar caste based party, will be able hold on to its vote bank in the North Tamil Nadu which is around 4%. PMK’s strategy of projecting Anbumani as CM Candidate and their 18 months campaign will give them additional 1%-2% votes. So PMK might get 5-6% Votes.
They might win 2 – 3 seats. Anbumani, GK Mani(PMK party leader) , another important leader Guru from Jayankondam has good chance.
Seats and Vote Share of PMK


2. PWF-DMDK-TMC Grand Alliance (Third Front)

Four parties including 2 Left parties (CPI & CPM), MDMK (Vaiko) and VCK (Dalit party in North Tamil Nadu) formed a grand alliance named PWF (People’s Welfare Front) in Tamil Nadu projecting themselves as Third Front. Constiuents of this front were in alliance with ADMK & DMK in the past elections.

DMDK was negotiating with both DMK as well as BJP to form an alliance. Since DMK was not willing to share power (meaning no cabinet positions) if this alliance won and BJP was not fully convinced on projecting him as CM candidate, Captain considered Vaiko’s proposal to join PWF alliance and become their CM candidate.

TMC (Moopnar’s son Vasan) was actaully pursuing ADMK alliance however Jayalalitha wanted TMC candidates to contest on ADMK symbol and also  giving them half of the demanded 20 seats. Dejected Vasan also joined PWF-DMDK alliance.

PWF-DMDK-TMC grand alliance seat sharing is as follows: PWF (104), DMDK (104) and TMC (26). Left parties 25 each, VCK 25 and 29 seats for Vaiko.


Sensing the lack of 3rd front and need for an anti-ADMK / anti-DMK front in Tamil Nadu, Captain who once supported DMK earlier, started thinking of starting his own party in 2004-2005. He stormed TN politics with his entry in 2006, claiming himself as alternative to corrupt ADMK and DMK. With BJP nowhere in the picture and MDMK failed attempt to cobble a 3rd Front in 1996, Captain was able to get good chunk of neutral votes / MGR supporters in 2006 state elections bagging 8.4% vote share, though only 1 seat.

Even though Captain is very close to Moopanar and Captain’s family (his father) were Congress supporters, Captain avoided an alliance with Congress in 2009 LS polls. His party registered an impressive 10% vote share in General Elections 2009, retaining a neutral stance.

However, to cash on the anti-incumbency against DMK and to sustain his party further, in 2011, he made an alliance with ADMK. DMDK won 29 out of 41 seats it contested.

However the two mercurial allies fell apart and alliance broke in months after pol ahead of local body elections as ADMK had got majority on its own. Captain claimed Jayalalitha couldn’t have got majority without his help.  Vijaykanth then became opposition leader in TN Legistative Assembly.

Seats and Vote Share of DMDK in various polls since formation


However, with his short temper, and lack of maturity, he could not perform his role of Opposition leader effectively.  He also started following Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha way of not coming into Assembly Hall as opposition leader. This has alienated some neutral voter base for him.

During 2014 elections, he kept talking with BJP, Congress and DMK at a same time and looking for better bargains. His opportunistic talk with multiple parties at the same time, have further alienated the neutral voters from him. His tussle with PMK also did not help the NDA alliance in 2014.  His vote share halved from peak of 10% to 5%.

With his poor health in 2015, alliance mess up in 2016 by talking with DMK, BJP and PWF is expected to dent his image.

Captain balloon likely to burst in 2016, DMDK might get 3 to 4% votes only now. Even he is staring defeat in his own seat from Ulunderpet this time.


  1. Left has scored just 0.5% votes in 2014, whenever they contested with DMK and ADMK in the past, they got around 2%, but they were able to win most of the seats that is allotted to them. Left has some influence in Thali, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Madurai and Nagapattinam seats.
  2. VCK (Thirumavalavan): He has influence among Dalit voters in North and Central Tamil Nadu but their performance in Assembly has been poor, where they lost all their 10 seats in 2011 and hardly won 2 seats in 2006 with ADMK. This time, VCK leader Thirumavalavan might win from Kattumannarkoil. Ravikumar has 50% chance to win his seat.
  3. MDMK (Vaiko party): They have good influence in Tuticorin District seats in South. Vaiko’s one of the leaders Ganesamurthy not showing that much interest in Western Tamil Nadu this time. However Vaiko party may spoil at least 5-6 seats for DMK in South. MDMK has no chance to win any seats. They might come 2nd in Tuticorin and Kovilpatti.


TMC: Tamil Manila Congress headed by Former Congress Minister G.k.Vasan. Vasan tried to play a role in TN politics similar to his Father G.K.Moopanar, who defeated ADMK-Congress in 1996 by breaking away from Congress. Unlike GKM’s TMC, GKVasan’s TMC has less effect. GKVasan himself is not so famous in his own constituency Papanamsam in Delta District. GK Vasan’s TMC is the weakest link of PWF-DMDK alliance.

DMDK is the star player of PWF, so in total PWF might end up winning 0-5 seats with vote share of around 8-10%.

The most important thing to note here is that both PMK and DMDK best performance has been when they have allied with AIADMK or DMK – PMK (2001 and 2006), DMDK (2011) – without the support of these giants, they are expected to lag behind in terms of seats.

These regional parties many not win many seats but have the potential of spoiling the prospects of AIADMK as well as DMK in many seats. Whoever, they damage more will loose the elections.

Related Posts:

Can Amma overturn the trend? – Blog (PB)

Does Jayalalithaa have a chance of coming back as Tamil Nadu CM? – India Today Dailyo (PB + SC)

The Love Hate Relationship between BJP & Amma – India Today DailyO (PB)

Prospects of BJP in Tamil Nadu – Blog (KK + PB)

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