Sidelined AIADMK leader and independent candidate in the RK Nagar bypoll TTV Dhinakaran is all set for a big win with the vote margin with his rivals further widening by over 26,000 votes at the end of the 13th round of counting of votes.
Dhinakaran is continuing to maintain a comfortable margin over his AIADMK and DMK rivals. The outcome of the RK Nagar bypoll can have a bearing on political equations in Tamil Nadu. The battle for the constituency has become a matter of prestige for the ruling AIADMK as the seat was earlier represented by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
Thanga Tamil Selvan, a disqualified AIADMK MLA and now a Dhinakaran aide, while addressing the media outside TTV's residence, on Sunday said that this "win'' at RK Nagar is proof that both the people and the AIADMK cadres are with them. He also claimed that around 60 MLAs, including several ministers were in touch with them.
According to News18, Dhinakaran, while thanking voters, has vowed to bring down the EPS-OPS government in the state “within three months”. He has also declared himself as the “true political heir” of the late Jayalalithaa.
The counting began by 8 a.m. at Queen Mary's College in Chennai and the process is expected to be completed in 19 rounds. As many as 200 officials drawn from both Central and State government services have been deputed for the exercise.
There are 59 candidates in the fray, but the fight is essentially a triangular one, with key contenders being ruling AIADMK's E Madhusudhanan, main opposition DMK candidate N Maruthu Ganesh and Dhinakaran.
Tight security is in place with state and Central Armed Police Forces personnel providing multi-layered security.
The outcome of the result is crucial for all key contenders — the ruling AIADMK, rival leader TTV Dhinakaran, and the main opposition DMK.
For the ruling regime helmed by Chief Minister K Palaniswamy and his deputy O Panneerselvam, it will be seen as an acid test of whether voters prefer them after the demise of their formidable leader late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
For Dhinakaran, who claims to represent the welfare legacy of Jayalalithaa, a bypoll success is a veritable springboard for his future political aspirations.
Success for an aggressive DMK is critical as it would lend credence to its campaign line that the people were fed up with the incumbent "horse-trading" regime and wanted to bring it to the seat of power for dispensing good governance.
The DMK has been bolstered with the support of some more parties, including the Left, MDMK and VCK.
A win in this bypoll could help DMK project itself as a much more redoubtable key Opposition party.
While there are 18 micro observers drawn from Central government services, each of the 14 counting tables will be monitored by one of them, according to election authorities.
Earlier in the day, counting of votes suffered a temporary disruption following an alleged altercation between supporters of independent candidate TTV Dhinakaran and AIADMK's E Madhusudhanan. A senior electoral official said "altercation caused disruption," even as the two rival sides charged each other with roughing up counting agents.
Meanwhile, the ruling AIADMK led by its top office-bearers O Panneerselvam and E Palaniswamy paid homage to party founder, late chief minister MG Ramachandran on his 30th death anniversary.
The leaders and functionaries vowed to take forward the party rule for many more years. The party leaders and members pledged to "work hard to ensure that the rule of AIADMK, founded by MGR and taken forward by Amma (the late J Jayalalithaa)," continues for many years.
The entire counting process is being videographed and arrangements have been made to announce the results after conclusion of counting of each round.
The bypoll held on 21 December had seen a record 77.68 percent voter turnout.
With inputs from agencies
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