Tamil Nadu’s ruling party AIADMK, virtually going it alone in the coming elections, has announced 227 constituencies it will contest from and also the names of the candidates for these seats. The Tamil Nadu Assembly has 234 seats. It has allocated six seats to as many of its minor alliance partners, all of whom will contest under the AIADMK’s “two leaves” symbol.

Chief Minister and AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa will contest from RK Nagar constituency in Chennai, which she now represents. Some of the other prominent names are State Finance Minister and former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam from Bodinayakanur; Electricity Minister Natham R Viswanathan from Attur; Industries Minister P Thangamani from Kumarapalayam; Highways Minister Edapadi K Palaniswamy from Edapadi; Housing Minister R Vaithilingam from Orathanadu; and Minister for Commercial Tax MC Sampath from Cuddalore.

Old party hand and former Finance Minister C Ponnaiyan makes a come back and will contest from Saidapet.

Jayalalithaa has accommodated candidates who have shifted loyalties, such as K Pandiarajan, who was previously with the DMDK; Parithi Illamvazhuthi, formerly of the DMK; and Panruti S Ramachandran, an AIADMK veteran who had moved to the DMDK and is now back in the AIADMK fold.

By deciding that the AIADMK and its allies will contest the elections under the AIADMK’s two leaves symbol, Jayalalithaa has made a strong statement and is confident of being voted back to power. Using the party symbol across all the 234 constituencies is unprecedented even for the AIADMK, which has fought elections under her leadership either in alliance with a national party or a strong regional party in the past.

In 2011, the AIADMK contested 165 seats and won 151. It was then in alliance with the Vijayakant-led DMDK, which contested 45 seats and won 29 to emerge the principal opposition. The partners have since then fallen out.

Jayalalithaa has offered 169 candidates the chance to be elected for the first time to the State Assembly. Most of them are in various party positions or local body, and five have been in Parliament. Just about one-in-five of the 227 names is a member of the current legislature — 42 current MLAs will contest again in the elections in May.

This includes 17 ministers of the present 27-member Cabinet, including herself.