Campaign ends for TN assembly by-poll

Campaigning for by-elections to remaining four assembly constituencies that are vacant in Tamil Nadu ended on Friday. The elections would be yet another acid test for the AIADMK led by Edappadi K Palaniswami whose government is surviving on a wafer-thin majority. PTI file photo

Campaigning for by-elections to remaining four assembly constituencies that are vacant in Tamil Nadu ended on Friday. The elections would be yet another acid test for the AIADMK led by Edappadi K Palaniswami whose government is surviving on a wafer-thin majority.
 
Aravakurichi, Ottapidaram, Tiruparankundram and Sulur will go to polls on May 19 when the last phase of Lok Sabha polls would be held and counting of votes will be taken up on May 23. The results of by-elections to 18 assembly constituencies will also be announced on the same day – the results are crucial for the survival of the AIADMK government which is surviving on a wafer-thin majority.
 
While Sulur became vacant after its MLA Kanagaraj died of a heart attack after the announcement of the Lok Sabha polls, schedule for Aravakurichi, Ottapidaram and Tiruparankundram was not announced along with the other 18 since there were election petitions regarding these segments pending in the court.
 
With 22 assembly seats going to by-polls, the results have the potential to decide the fate of the government – the AIADMK currently has the support of 115 MLAs, including Speaker P Dhanapal, in a house whose strength currently is 212. The by-polls would witness an intense three-cornered fight between AIADMK, DMK and AMMK floated by AIADMK rebel T T V Dhinakaran. Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam is also making efforts to make its presence felt in the polls.
 
The AIADMK needs to win at least half-a-dozen seats to continue in power – four of its MLAs are openly supporting either Dhinakaran or the DMK of which three have been issued show-cause notices by Speaker P Dhanapal which have been struck down by Supreme Court.
 
The DMK might be able to form the government only if it wins 21 of the 22 seats since the majority mark is 118 – it currently has 97 seats, including Congress’ eight and lone MLA from the IUML. Dhinakaran’s leadership would also be put to test if his party candidates win seats in the by-polls since they would be deemed only as independents and not belonging to any party since AMMK is yet-to-be registered.

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