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 by-election 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 Earlier, the Election Commission announced by-election to this constituency on April 12 but rescinded it just two days ahead of polling citing distribution of money and other allurements in the constituency.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 by-election 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 T T 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 a split in AIADMK - AIADMK (Amma) led by V K Sasikala 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 Loganathan (CPI-M), Gangai Amaran (BJP), P Mathivanan(DMDK) and Kalaikottudhayam (Naam Thamizhar Katchi).
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