Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo said on Sunday that by-elections would be held along with the Lok Sabha polls only April 18 only for 18 out of the 21 vacant seats, as cases were pending in court in regard to the three constituencies.
They were Ottarapidaram, Aruvakuruchi and Thiruparakundram.
He said that the eight disqualified AIADMK rebel legislators could contest the by-elections. The Edappadi K Palanisami has a working majority in the Assembly after the disqualification of 18 pro-Dinakaran legislators by Speaker S Dhanapal which has since been upheld by the Madras High Court.
The ruling AIADMK has to win at least eight of these seats to touch the half way mark of 117 seats in the 234 Assembly. This is why it has given seven Lok Sabha seats to the PMK and four to the DMDK in return for their support for the AIADMK in the 21 Assembly by-elections.
Besides these 18, the AIADMK has also lost two seats, one following the death of sitting member AK Bose who won from Thiruparankundram, and Balakrishna Reddy of Hosur who got disqualified following conviction in a criminal case.
Only the Tiruvarur seat was held by the DMK as it has fallen vacant following the death of party patriarch M Karunanidhi.
The Ottapidaram seat was won by the AIDMK, defeating Puthiya Tamizhagam leader S Krishnaswamy. He has challenged the result in court. He has since joined the AIADMK, but his election suit is still pending.
Avarakurichi seat was won by senior AIADMK leader Senthil Balaji who got disqualified after he switched loyalty to Dinakaran and is now with the DMK. The Aravakurichi election has been challenged by an independent.
The Thiruparakundram election was won by A K Bose and it was challenged by DMK rival. But Bose has since died. It is not clear why by-election is not being held there.
For the AIADMK it is a question of survival as it is will be facing the people for the first time since the death of its late Chief Minister J Jayalalitha. The only by-election held in2017 post-Jayalalitha was won by Dinakaran with the support of the Edappadi group, It has since merged with the O pannerselvam group and the reunited AIADMK has won the symbol.