The Election Commission on Wednesday announced that by-elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly from four constituencies will be held on May 19.
They are to Sulur, Ottapidaram, Aravkurichi and Tiruparankundram Assembly seats. Solur fell vacant following the death of AIADMK legislator Kanakaraj on March 21. The other three were delayed because of pendency of cases. Now the courts have given their verdicts, the decks have been cleared to hold the by-elections.
When the ECI released the dates, 21 seats were vacant in the 234- member Tamil Nadu Assembly. It, however, announced bypolls along with the Lok Sabha only for 18 seats on April 18.
These 18 seats fell vacant following the disqualification of AIADMK legislators loyal to breakaway leader T T V Dinakaran. Two more fell vacant following the death DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi ( Tiruvarur) and sitting AIADMK member A K Bose( Tiruparakundram).
Later, Hosur also fell vacant following the disqualification of former Minister P Balakrishna Reddy upon his conviction in a criminal case.
Recently, the Sulur seat also fell vacant due to the death of Kanagaraj on March 21, taking the number of vacancies to 22.
More than the Lok Sabha elections, victory in the Assembly by-elections is crucial for the survival of the Edappadi Palanisami Government as it has only a working majority. It has only 114 members, four short of majority. Of these, three are members of small parties who had won on AIDMK symbol and who have since ditched the government.
Therefore its effective strength is only 111. It needs to win at least seven more seats to get past the half way mark.
The DMK also is giving more importance to the by-elections than the Lok Sabha polls as its primary aim to send the AIADMK Government packing . Reflecting this thinking, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram told an election rally the other day that once Rahul Gandhi becomes Prime Minister, the Edappadi Government will collapse and DMK leader M K Stlain will become Chief Minister.
It is not going to be all that easy. Pre-poll surveys project BJP –led NDA getting over 270 seats, and predict the Congress may get around 140 and others non-Congress, non-BJP parties another 115.