Heavy polling was witnessed in two by-elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly from Vikhravandi and Nanguneri. By 1 p.m., 54.17 per cent polling was reported from Vikhravandi while Nanguneri saw a turnout of 41.35 per cent.
The final tally may touch at 65 to 70 per cent. Though both the seats are witnessing multi-cornered contests, the main fight is between the ruling AIADMK and the opposition DMK in Vikhravandi and between AIADMK and DMK ally Congress in Nanguneri.
The Vikravandi seat in Villupuram district had fallen vacant following the death of sitting DMK member Radhamani in June. Nanguneri in southern Tirunelveli has fallen vacant following the election of billionaire Congressman Vasanth Kumar to the Lok Sabha from there.
Rettiyarpatti V Narayanan is AIADMK candidate in Nanguneri , He is pitted against DMK’s ally Congress’ candidate R Manoharan who is the head of Ruby Group of companies. In Vikravandi, M R Muthamizhselvan, the AIADMK secretary of Kanai Union in the Villupuram district unit is taking on N Pugazhendhi, the party treasurer for DMK’s Villupuram district unit.
This is the first by-election since the April Lok Sabha polls which saw the AIADMK draw a blank. However, the AIADMK more than made up the loss by winning nine out of 23 Assembly by-elections held simultaneously. As a result, the AIADMK got a comfortable majority with 122 in the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly.
Thus the continuance of the Edappadi Government will not be affected whatever the outcome. However, the AIADMK and the DMK have raised the pitch. The AIADMK claims it still has people’s support and that it fared badly in the Lok Sabha polls because of anti-Modi wave in Tamil Nadu. This time, the AIADMK has kept the BJP out of campaigning.
The DMK president M K Stalin has said the EPS Government is continuing courtesy Modi. The by-election, he has said, will be a dress rehearsal for coming elections whenever they fall due as the Edappadi Government’s future hinges on the Supreme Court verdict on the disqualification of 18 dissident pro-Dinakaran MLAs.