Parties get ready for high-stakes bypolls in TN

Parties get ready for high-stakes bypolls in TN

 T T V Dhinakaran

The high-stakes bypolls to Tiruvarur and Tiruparankundram in Tamil Nadu are yet to be announced, but three major players – AIADMK, its rebel T T V Dhinakaran and DMK – are pulling every stop to win the election battle coming just a year before the general elections.

By-elections to these constituencies were necessitated due to the death of sitting members M Karunanidhi (Tiruvarur) and A K Bose (Tiruparankundram). There is no clarity on when the bypolls would be held though they should be conducted within six months of the seats falling vacant. This will be the first election to be fought in Tamil Nadu without the presence of J Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi.

The bypolls will serve as an acid test for the DMK since this would be the first election for the party without the presence of its charismatic leader Karunanidhi. The AIADMK’s popularity will also be tested for the second time since Jayalalithaa’s death in 2016 – the ruling party will also try to win at least one seat.

M K Stalin, who succeeded his father Karunanidhi as DMK chief, has high stakes in this election since his leadership skills and popularity would be put to test during the bypolls. Stalin, who faced much criticism for the DMK’s defeat in Dr R K Nagar bypolls last year, has already visited his father’s constituency twice and in two months, in a bid to enthuse party cadre.

Though Tiruvarur has always been a DMK bastion, the party might face tough fight if Karunanidhi’s elder son M K Alagiri enters the fray as an independent. Alagiri, who has failed in its efforts to make a re-entry into the DMK, is using the bypoll gamble to exert pressure on the party, political observers feel.

With popular opinion favouring DMK in the constituency in the heart of Cauvery Delta region, Dhinakaran is seeking to take the wind out of DMK’s sails by organising a massive public rally on October 10. The rebel leader, whose faction now functions under Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) banner, will also hold a rally in Tiruparankundram, a traditional AIADMK bastion.

“All three are major stakeholders in this election and as far as Tiruparankundram is concerned, it will most probably be a three-cornered contest between DMK, AIADMK and T T V Dhinakaran. T T V Dhinakaran is the person to watch for since he has the potential to transform the course of the AIADMK in the future, though he is not in power,” Prof Ramu Manivannan, Head of the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras, told DH.

He also said Alagiri’s indication of contesting the Tiruvarur bypolls would have a huge impact on the harmony in the DMK and its first family. “For the DMK, the by-elections are a major test of popularity since there is palpable anger against the government. Though the elections are yet to be announced, the bypolls would be of major significance in Tamil Nadu,” Manivannan said.