The Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu on April 19 will see a mix of interesting candidates in the fray. The names include Vidhya Rani, the daughter of notorious sandalwood smuggler Veerappan; Aatral Ashok Kumar, the richest contestant in the fray and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Paneerselvam contesting as an independent.

This time, Tamil Nadu will see a three cornered fight among the DMK, the AIADMK and the BJP. All the 39 seats plus Puducherry go to the polls on April 19. The last day to file the nomination papers ended on Wednesday with a total of 1,749nominations have been filed.

The Chennai North constituency saw the maximum nominations with 31. March 30 is the last date to withdraw the nomination papers.

Kumar, who will contest on an AIADMK ticket, in his affidavit filed before the Election Commission, disclosed that his net assets are worth ₹583.48 crore. He declared his movable assets to be worth ₹526.53 crore while movable assets of his spouse, Karunambika, were declared to be worth ₹47.38 crore. He is the founding member and director of The Indian Public School and Amex Alloys Pvt Ltd.

Kumar hails from a family of politicians. His mother, KS Soundaram, is a former MP (Tiruchengodu constituency, 1991) while his mother-in-law, C Saraswati, is a sitting BJP MLA from Modakkurichi. The engineering graduate, who’s an MBA from a US university, was earlier with the BJP and served as its State OBC wing Vice-President for two years before he joined the AIADMK in November 2023.

The second richest candidate from the State is the BJP’s Sivaganga candidate, Devanathan Yadav, owner of Win TV, who declared assets worth ₹304.92 crore. He will contest against the sitting MP, Karti Chidambaram.

Vidhya Rani, a lawyer, will contest from the Krishnagiri Lok Sabha constituency on the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) ticket. Recently, she severed ties with the BJP. A tribal and Dalit rights advocate, Rani has roots in places such as Anchetti, Thalli and Denkanikottai, where her father ruled the roost in the forests and hilly areas.

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister O Paneerselvam will contest as an independent from the Ramanathapuram constituency in south east Tamil Nadu. Interestingly, four other Paneerselvams have filed their nominations from the same constituency. He has asked the Election Commission to allot him jackfruit, grapes and bucket symbol.

TTV Dhinakaran, founding General Secretary of Amma Makkal Munneetra Kazagam, will contest from Theni as part of the NDA. In the past he was the Treasurer of AIADMK and had served as the Member of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. He was expelled from the AIADMK in August 2017.

Incidentally, of the 39 Lok Sabha seats, Theni was the only seat which the AIADMK-led NDA alliance won in the 2019 general elections. Paneerselvam’s son P Ravindranath won the Theni seat in the election that was swept by the DMK-led front.