Independent candidates won handsomely in two panchayats of Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu in the urban local body polls defeating established political parties.
In Sayalkudi and Kamuthi town panchayats, independent candidates stole the show winning all the 15 seats in the former while losing one seat to BJP’s Kamuthi J. Sathya in Kamuthi town panchayat. In Kamuthi, DMK had not even put up a candidate, in Sayilkudi a few of its candidates contested but faced a crushing defeat.
The main reason for the victories of the independent candidates in these two town panchayats is the caste consideration. It is the caste chieftains who decide on the candidates in these town panchayats and the established political parties prefer not to interfere. However, the BJP contested all the seats at Kamuthi and won one, thus scripting history.
Independent candidate, S. Manickavel got 450 votes, which is the highest number that any candidate in Sayalkudi town panchayat got, while another candidate, R. Mariyappan secured 277 votes, the least polled by an independent candidate in the panchayat.
Both the Dravidian majors — DMK and the AIADMK — drew a blank in these two town panchayats and only the BJP could stand up and fight against the caste and religious leadership that propped up these independent candidates.
In Kamuthi town panchayat, 11 candidates including the BJP candidate J. Sathya and 10 independents were elected unopposed while elections were held in four wards. Independent candidates won all four seats.
Independent candidates also won 6 out of the 15 wards from the Mudukulathur town panchayat making a mark for themselves. In Mandapam town panchayat also independent candidates won in 5 out of the 18 wards and AIADMK was pushed to the third spot in these constituencies.
Four independent candidates won in Thondi panchayat out of the 15 wards. The remaining seats were won by DMK candidates.
With the independent candidates winning in large numbers even in the remote areas of the city, political parties will have to rework their strategies to overcome the challenge posed by the independents backed by powerful religious and caste groups.