The first floor of the DMK headquarters in Chennai has turned into the party's war room ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and assembly by-elections in Tamil Nadu. A battery of the party's lawyers, techies and social media watchers are closely monitoring the news channels, online space and developments on ground zero.
The objective is to report model code violations and flawed affidavits by rival candidates. The key task of the online team is to handle trolls across parties. It was this team's intervention that led to popular actor Radha Ravi's suspension from the party for his distasteful remarks on against actor Nayanthara a few days ago.
"Regarding the issue of Radha Ravi, we were able to point out to our leadership that it's gaining lots of traction. Tamil Nadu has almost more than a crore new voters, who are watching the online space and they will be influenced," A Saravanan, DMK spokesperson and a member of the legal team told NDTV.
It's the first election the DMK is fighting under MK Stalin as the party chief. The battle is being seen as an acid test for his leadership. The pressure to win all 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry is high after he proposed ally Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for the Prime Minister.
The party strategists are now asking the poll panel to transfer a dozen senior bureaucrats for free and fair polls, including the state police chief TK Rajendran. "The DGP (Director General of Police) was raided by the CBI recently over the Gutka scam. How can he ensure free polls," Rajya Sabha lawmaker, RS Bharathi told NDTV.
With 18 assembly constituencies holding simultaneous by-elections with the Lok Sabha polls, the stakes are high for the DMK. Political analysts say it could potentially pave way for the DMK to oust the AIADMK and be back in power in the state.