Chennai, Mar 21:
All India Anna DMK member of the Assembly from Sulur, near Coimbatore Kanakaraj (63) died on Thursday morning after a heart attack, bringing down further the strength of the regime which has only a working majority.
A member of the AAIDMK since its inception , Kanakaraj rose from the ranks and became an MLA in 2016. He leaves his wife, a son and a daughter.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami and Deputy O Pannerselvam paid homage to him at his residence in his native village near Coimbatore.. Palanisami said he earned the trust of both AIADMK founder MGR and successor J Jayalalitha and he held various posts at the district level before becoming MLA.
Kanakaraj was the third MLA the party has lost since the passing of Jayalalitha in December 2016. Rebel leader Dinakaran has filled Jayalalitha’s seat by winning as an independent from R K Nagar in Chennai.
Sitting member A K Bose died after shortly after his election from Tiruparankundram in 2016. Later , its Hosur MLA Balakrishna Reddy got disqualified following his conviction in a criminal case.
Out of the 21 vacant seats, the Election Commission is holding by-election only for 18, as cases are pending regarding the other three seats—Tiruparankundram, Kallakurichi and Ottapidaram. All three were won by the AIADMK.
With the passing of Kanakaraj, Assembly’s current strength is 233 and the half way mark is 117. However, the AIADMK has only 114 after the disqualification of 18 pro-Dinakaran legislators. The 114 includes members who got elected on its symbol like Tamimun Ansari and Karunas have turned against the Government. Besides, members from Vriddhachalam, Arantangi and Kallakurchi have since joined hands with rebel leader Dinakaran
Thus its effective strength is only 109. To stay in power, it has to win at least eight out of the 18 seats fo rwhich by-elections are going to be held along with the Lok Sabha polls on April 18.
Out of the 18, the only seat of the DMK is Tiruvavur which was represented by its late leader and four-time Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. It is, however, contesting all the 18 seats as party president M K Stalin is bent on unseating the Edappadi Government.