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TN by-polls: Results could to be a morale booster for parties in run-up to 2021 election

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on September 26, 2019 Published on September 26, 2019

An adverse result for the ruling AIADMK may not be enough to dislodge it from power

The results of by-polls for Vikravandi and Naguneri, to be held on October 21, will not drastically alter the political arithmetic in Tamil Nadu. However, a win could be a morale booster for the winning political parties, with just 18 months left for the 2021 Assembly elections. The by-polls will see fierce competition between the ruling AIADMK and DMK. Other parties, including Kamal Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam and TTV Dhinakaran's Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, have refrained from contesting. Both did not contest the Vellore Lok Sabha elections held on August 2019.

An adverse result for the ruling AIADMK in the by-polls may not dislodge the ruling AIADMK government. However, a win could help the party consolidate its position further in the Assembly, in which it enjoys a thin majority.

Incidentally, the AIADMK lost both seats to the DMK and Congress in 2016. The bypolls were necessitated following the death of DMK’s Vikravandi MLA K Rathamani and the resignation of Nanguneri Congress MLA H Vasanthakumar, who quit after being elected to the Lok Sabha from Kanyakumari district.

The ruling AIADMK, which has a majority in the Assembly with 123 members out of the 234 seats, announced MR Muthamizhselvan as the party candidate from Vikravandi and Reddiarpatti V Narayanan for the Nanguneri constituency.

On its part, the DMK is seeking to hold Vikravandi by fielding N Pugazhenthi and allotting Nanguneri to its ally Congress.

The Congress is yet to announce its candidate in Nanguneri. However, there is speculation that 89-year-old Congress veteran H Kumari Ananthan, former president of the Tamil Nadu Congress and brother of Vasanthakumar, could be fielded as the party candidate.

N Sathiya Moorthy, a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter, said that no one expected the DMK alliance to do as well as it did in the Lok Sabha polls, or the ruling AIADMK combine to do as bad. It's not about winning and losing (alone) but the margins in individual LS constituencies.

It is crucial for both sides to sustain the cadre mood just 18 months before the assembly polls, due by May 2021.

From 1989, the ruling party had always won by-polls in Tamil Nadu, until May 2019, when the DMK won a majority of the 22 assembly seats for which bypolls were held. But the upcoming by-polls are a different ball-game. The AIADMK, as the ruling party, has to win both seats by respectable margins to redouble cadre morale after the LS poll defeat. The DMK combine has no such pressing compulsion, but it cannot do too badly, either.

By letting the Congress re-contest in Nanguneri, the DMK has ended all speculation about dumping its national ally. The DMK needs Congress’s votes more than say the BJP's, more so in the assembly polls, and the Nanguneri nomination is but only a proof, he said.

Published on September 26, 2019
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