Chennai: The by-election for former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s Assembly seat saw not her party candidate, but her aide VK Sasikala's nephew and Independent candidate TTV Dhinakaran winning the contest. Dhinakaran won by 40,707 votes. While he polled 89,013 votes, the AIADMK candidate E Madhusudhanan secured 48,306 votes. The DMK’s Maruthu Ganesh came third with 24,651 votes.
Dhinakaran maintained a steady lead throughout the 19 rounds of counting. Other than him and Madhusudhanan, all the other candidates will forfeit their deposits for polling less than one-sixth of the votes. The BJP’s K Nagarajan polled less than one percent of the total votes. Even None of the Above (NOTA) had more takers than the 1,417 votes Nagarajan secured.
The by-election, held more than a year after the AIADMK matriarch’s death, was crucial for all the key contenders: Mannargudi clan and rebel leader Dhinakaran, the main Opposition DMK and the merged AIADMK faction of Chief Minister E Palaniswami and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam.
The AIADMK candidate’s defeat in the by-election could affect the minority government. Speculation is rife that Dhinakaran might stage a political coup with the support of many sitting MLAs.
Addressing the media outside Dhinakaran’s residence, his aide and disqualified AIADMK MLA Thanga Tamil Selvan said this win was a proof that both the people and the AIADMK cadres are with them. He joked about "sleeper cells" within the AIADMK, comprising ministers who will be "activated soon".
Commenting on the BJP’s poor show, Nagarajan alleged that this election was a through and through cash-for-votes scam. “It is the money that spoke and not any of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies,” he said.
The by-election, earlier slated to be held in April, was cancelled by the Election Commission after it found evidence of large-scale bribery of voters by the ruling AIADMK (Amma) and other parties and candidates. The polling, held on 21 December, saw 77.7 percent turnout.
The 2G case judgment, in which the special CBI court acquitted DMK leaders — former Union telecom minister A Raja and Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi — on the day of polling boosted the confidence of the party workers, who had been expecting a victory ever since. However, it was Dhinakaran who drew a massive mandate.
At his Chennai residence, his supporters burst crackers and distributed sweets. At the counting centre, a teacher from Thirunalveli and a Dhinakaran supporter Sundaram E expressed hope that the new MLA would do good for the people of his constituency as an Independent candidate.
|Independent candidate||TTV Dhinakaran||89,013||50.32|
|DMK||N Marudhu Ganesh||24,651||14.00|
Ayswarya Murthy is a Bangalore-based journalist and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.
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Updated Date: Dec 24, 2017 19:38:55 IST