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TN CM EPS celebrating with party colleagues in Chennai
TN CM EPS celebrating with party colleagues in Chennai|Photo credit: CM's Twitter account
Politicking

AIADMK, Sans Jaya, Pulls Off Big Bypoll Win

The ruling party laps up two seats that were earlier with the DMK – Vikravandi and Nanguneri

Sandhya Ravishankar

Sandhya Ravishankar

In a win that would likely have surprised even the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the constituencies of Vikravandi and Nanguneri returned AIADMK candidates as MLAs.

While the Vikravandi seat fell vacant due to the demise of the sitting Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MLA, the Nanguneri seat fell vacant due to the resignation of Congress' Vasanthakumar who resigned as MLA after he became an MP.

Muthamilselvan R won the Vikravandi seat with a thumping 45,000 vote margin. Narayanan V won the Nanguneri seat with a good 30,000 margin.

With this win, the AIADMK has proven that they are a party that is capable of coming together and performing without a cult leader like the late J Jayalalithaa or MG Ramachandran.

This win, say analysts, is also a doff of the hat to chief minister and leader of the party Edappadi K Palaniswami, who has managed to first deliver nine bypoll seats during the general elections and now two more.

Tamil Nadu Votes Differently

Political pundits point out that Tamil Nadu has always voted differently for Parliamentary polls and Assembly polls.

“The 2019 Parliamentary election results were a vote against the BJP,” said Aazhi Senthilnathan, political analyst. “The DMK used this sentiment to its advantage and won 37 out of 38 seats.”

But the byelections to 18 Assembly seats at the same time showed that when it comes to the state, the fight was still clearly and evenly matched between the DMK and the AIADMK, which won nine seats each.

“I would say that this shows the party machinery – whether the DMK or the AIADMK – is functioning beautifully, irrespective of the leader at the helm,” said Senthilnathan. “Look at the Vellore Lok Sabha bypoll which was held afterwards – the DMK candidate won by a very thin margin. So DMK’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections was due to the anti-BJP mood at that time,” he said.

What worked in the AIADMK’s favour in this bypoll was the backing of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) in Vikravandi, a largely Vanniyar (Most Backward Caste) belt, he adds.

He also feels that money distribution to voters by the ruling party could have played a role in the win.

The DMK agrees on the latter point. “It is a byelection and the government has every tool at their disposal to distribute money and sway the vote,” TKS Elangovan, DMK spokesperson told The Lede.

Historically, however, Tamil Nadu has always voted in the ruling party candidate during bypolls except for the RK Nagar seat in 2017 which was won by TTV Dhinakaran post Jayalalithaa’s demise and the Pennagaram bypoll in 2009.

“This victory is a firm and healthy decision handed to Amma’s government by the Tamil people. A great victory!” tweeted deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam.

The chief minister and his cabinet celebrated the win by distributing sweets at the party headquarters in Chennai.

Aazhi Senthilnathan though says that this might well set a dangerous precedent for the state. “This is clearly an unpopular government. But if they can still win two seats on the basis of cash and caste, then I really fear for the future of Tamil Nadu,” he said.