CHENNAI: A day after the ruling faction of the AIADMK was granted the two leaves symbol, the Election Commission today announced the schedule for the by-election to the RK Nagar Assembly constituency. Polling will take place on December 21 and counting of votes and declaration of results will take place on December 24.
According to the schedule, the nomination for the by-election will begin on November 27 and the last date for filing nomination will be December 4. Scrutiny of nominations will take place on December 5 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations will be on December 7.
With this, the model code of conduct has come into force in Chennai district. The model code will be applicable to all candidates, political parties, State government and Central government.
Following complaints from opposition parties, the EC has, so far, removed the names off 45,889 bogus voters from the electoral rolls. As on date, the total number of voters in this constituency stands at 2,19,409 and of this, 1,12,588 are women and 1,06,725 are men. There are 96 transgender voters. During the ongoing summary revision of electoral rolls, 9,621 persons have applied for inclusion into the electoral rolls. Till November 30, applications will be received for inclusion and deletion in the electoral rolls.
There are 256 polling booths in this constituency and around 310 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail System (VVPAT) machines would be used for this by-election to ensure free and fair polling. Using this facility, the voter would be able to see a printout of the symbol of the candidate to whom he has voted. The print out would be visible through a glass window. The printout of the image would be retained in the machine.
For the nine-month-old government headed by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, the by-election to RK Nagar Assembly constituency will be indeed the litmus test. This is the first by-election to be faced by this government. This by-election has put the political parties in Tamil Nadu on poll mode once again.
This by-election is taking place after the merger of the factions led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam and winning this seat is a political necessity for them since opposition would dub it as an approval or disapproval for the Palaniswami’s governance. Further, this by-election is likely to happen when the Madras High Court is likely to give its verdict on the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs and the Election Commission is expected to decide on the two leaves symbol dispute very soon.
TTV Dhinakaran has already declared that he would contest the by-election again. Last time, when Dhinakaran contested the April 12 by-election to this constituency, it was rescinded by the EC on charges of large-scale distribution of money and other allurements to the voters.
Whether the unified AIADMK head by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam is going to retain E Madhusudanan who had contested the by-election in April is yet to be clear. While DMK is likely to retain its old candidate Marudhu Ganesh while BJP may skip this by-election as an indirect support the ruling faction. Last time, music director Gangai Amaran contested as BJP candidate.
DMDK and Naam Thamizhar are likely to retain their old candidates. Whether the CPM, which has been extending support to DMK-sponsored agitations of late, will retain its candidate or considering the opposition unity, will take a different decision will be known in the coming days.
Deepa who contested the April 12 by-election, since then has been in keeping herself busy. Particularly after the State government announced that the residence of Jayalalithaa would be made a memorial, she is raising her voice and even moved the court. Whether she would contest this by-election in the changed political scenario now is yet to be seen.
Another interesting aspect is that Kamal Haasan had said he was ready to face the election within 100 days. Now there is a by-election before him and will he take the call or will stop by just giving a clarion call to the voters to elect the right person is to be seen.
A total of 62 candidates, including eight women, were in the fray in the by-election during April. In the past, the AIADMK had won seven out of 11 times in the constituency in the last 40 years. The other key candidates who were in fray then include R Loganathan (CPM), P Mathivanan(DMDK) and Kalaikottudhayam (Naam Thamizhar Katchi).