CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam today launched the campaign for December 21 by-election to the prestigious R K Nagar assembly constituency, seen as an acid test for the ruling AIADMK.
As AIADMK flags fluttered along the campaign route, Palaniswami and Panneerselvam canvassed for party candidate E Madusudanan from an open jeep.
All along the campaign, party workers waved images of a smiling Amma (Jayalalithaa) engraved on a plastic clipboard like material.
Featuring the late party supremo in her favourite green in such publicity materials, party functionaries also held the party symbol two-leaves which was cast in the same colour.
Addressing the electorate, Palaniswami said after Amma won from the assembly segment, she announced several welfare schemes for RK Nagar and brought amenities for the people.
Inaugurating the campaign at Korukkupet, Palaniswami appealed to the people to help Madusudanan win with a huge margin to "continue the good work of Amma." Hitting out at DMK Working President M K Stalin, he alleged that when the Leader of Opposition in the assembly was the city Mayor he did not bring amenities or devise schemes for the people of RK Nagar.
The Chief Minister accused the DMK leader of not introducing schemes for the constituency when he was a Minister.
A resident of North Chennai, Madusudanan who won from the same constituency in 1991 was a Minister for Handlooms during 1991-96 when late J Jayalalithaa was the Chief Minister.
Sporting a bright white shirt, dhoti and a tilak on his forehead, Madusudanan sought votes with folded hands all along the campaign trail.
Panneerselvam said Madusudanan is a popular leader whom the people across the constituency knew very well. He has been working for the people for decades together.
After winning in 1991, he did a lot of good work for the RK Nagar people, he said.
Earlier, Palaniswami and Panneerselvam inaugurated a party election campaign office, held discussions with party functionaries and visited a local temple.
State Ministers including Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, an AIADMK strongman of North Chennai where RK Nagar falls, C Vijayabaskar and SP Velumani were among those who accompanied the top two ruling party leaders.
DMK candidate N Marudu Ganesh has begun campaign in R K Nagar by going door-to-door seeking votes.
The by-poll to the assembly seat was necessitated after the death of legislator and chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
The by-poll was earlier scheduled to be held on April 12.
However, it was rescinded by the Election Commission following complaints of money distribution.
Madhusudhanan was then the candidate of the Panneerselvam-led rival AIADMK faction, while Dhinakaran was contesting on the then AIADMK (Amma) camp.
Later, the factions led by Panneerselvam and Palaniswami merged in August.
The Election Commission awarded the 'Two Leaves' symbol to the unified AIADMK on November 2.