R K Na­gar by­poll, a lit­mus test for govt

Seat fell va­cant af­ter death of then CM Jay­alalithaa; Pugazhendi says duty to en­sure vic­tory for Dhi­nakaran

The New Indian Express - - TAMIL NADU - EX­PRESS NEWS SER­VICE @ Chen­nai

FOR the eight-month-old govern­ment headed by Edap­padi K Palaniswami, the by-elec­tion to RK Na­gar As­sem­bly con­stituency to be held within two months will in­deed be a lit­mus test.

The an­nounce­ment by the Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner A K Joti that the by­elec­tion would be held be­fore De­cem­ber 31 has put po­lit­i­cal par­ties in Tamil Nadu on poll mode again.

The seat fell va­cant fol­low­ing the death of the then Chief Min­is­ter J Jay­alalithaa. Ear­lier, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion an­nounced by-elec­tion to this con­stituency on April

12 but re­scinded it just two days ahead of polling cit­ing dis­tri­bu­tion of money and other al­lure­ments in the con­stituency. Sources said the no­ti­fi­ca­tion for this by­elec­tion is likely to be is­sued be­fore mid-Novem­ber.

The by­poll comes af­ter the merger of the fac­tions led by Palaniswami and Pan­neer­sel­vam. Win­ning this seat is a po­lit­i­cal ne­ces­sity for them since the op­po­si­tion would read in the out­come an ap­proval or dis­ap­proval for Palaniswami’s gov­er­nance. It is also be­ing held at a time when the Madras High Court is likely to de­liver its ver­dict on the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of 18 AIADMK MLAs and the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of In­dia is ex­pected to de­cide on the Two Leaves sym­bol dis­pute soon.

Just af­ter the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion’s an­nounce­ment, V Pugazhendi, a sup­porter of TT V Dhi­nakaran, told me­di­a­per­sons at Ben­galuru that it would be their duty to en­sure the vic­tory of Dhi­nakaran in R K Na­gar since he was the of­fi­cial AIADMK can­di­date for the April 12 by-elec­tion there.

The uni­fied AIADMK headed by Palaniswami and Pan­neer­sel­vam may re­tain E Mad­husud­hanan as its can­di­date. Sim­i­larly, DMK, BJP, DMDK and Naam Thamizhar Katchi are likely to re­peat their can­di­dates.

Whether the CPM, which has been ex­tend­ing sup­port to DMK-spon­sored ag­i­ta­tions of late, will re­tain its can­di­date or re­visit it in the in­ter­est of op­po­si­tion unity re­mains to be seen.

Jay­alalithaa’s niece J Deepa who also con­tested the April 12 by-elec­tion has been keep­ing her­self busy. Par­tic­u­larly af­ter the State govern­ment an­nounced that Jay­alalithaa’s res­i­dence would be made a memo­rial, she raised her voice and even moved the court. She is also likely to con­test this by-elec­tion.

Dhi­nakaran con­tested the April by-elec­tion as AIADMK (Amma) can­di­date. On March 22, the EC froze the Two Leaves sym­bol and the name of the party thus recog­nis­ing asp li ti nAIAD MK-A I ADMK( Am ma) led by V KS a si kala and AIADMK (Pu­ratchi Tha­laivi Amma) headed by O Pan­neer­sel­vam. While AIADMK (Amma) got ‘hat’ as its sym­bol, AIADMK (PT Amma)’s can­di­date E Mad­husu­danan got ‘elec­tric pole’ as the sym­bol.

A to­tal of 62 can­di­dates, in­clud­ing eight women, were in the fray in the by-elec­tion. In the last 40 years, AIADMK had won seven out of 11 times in the con­stituency. Deepa, niece of Jay­alalithaa had also con­tested the elec­tion as can­di­date of MGR Amma Deepa Per­a­vai. The DMK fielded jour­nal­ist-turned politi­cian Marudhu Ganesh. The other key can­di­dates who were in the fray then in­cluded R Log a nathan( C PI-M ), Gang a iA mar an( B JP ), P Mathivanan(DMDK) and Kalaikot­tudhayam (Naam Thamizhar Katchi).

Ka­mal fac­tor Ac­tor Ka­mal Haasan had said he was ready to face elec­tions within 100 days. Now that there is a by-elec­tion, whether he would take the plunge is to be seen

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