R K Nagar byelection a test of strength for Sasikala, OPS factions

R K Nagar byelection a test of strength for Sasikala, OPS factions

The April 12 byelection to R K Nagar Assembly constituency in North Chennai is important for many reasons, not least because it could solve the confusion prevailing in Tamil Nadu’s ruling party.

RK Nagar bypolls, represented by the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa whose death has prompted the bypoll, is supposedly facing multi-cornered contest, though the major battle is between the two warring factions of the AIADMK. The faction led by VK Sasikala has fielded her nephew and deputy general secretary TTV Dinakaran, while the rebel faction led by former chief minister O Panneerselvam has nominated former Palladium chairman E Madhusudhanan, also the former MLA from R K Nagar between 1991 and 1996.

For Dinakaran and Madhusudhanan, the election is a litmus test to prove which one of them actually command public support and thereby claim Jayalalithaa’s legacy.

Dinakaran is under pressure to prove that people are not quite against Sasikala’s takeover of the party reins, while the election is a must-win for Panneerselvam –who enjoyed good rapport with Jayalalithaa - to get public endorsement for his rebellion and get his hands on the party and power.

Before the bypoll, the Election Commission froze the party’s two-leaves symbol, forcing both the factions to contest on neutral symbols.  “People are with us,” Dinakaran assured, banking on some of the tall poll promises such as building 57,000 houses which did not even feature in the 2016 manifesto.

Pre-poll estimates may have given Panneerselvam faction an edge, but its candidate Madhusudhanan would not like to take it easy. Besides sweating it out in the sun, the faction –officially known as AIADMK Puratchitalaivi Amma—has also made sweeping promises to the constituency.

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