Two newly elected AIADMK legislators from Vikhravandi and Nanguneri on Friday took oath in the Tamil Nadu Speaker P Dhanapal’s chamber, taking the ruling party’s strength to 122 in the 235-member Assembly, five more than the halfway mark.
The Speaker administered the oath to M R Muthatamizhselvan( Vikhravandi) and R Narayanan( Nanguneri). Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami and Deputy O Pannerselvam were present at the function.
The AIADMK had wrested the Vikhravandi from the DMK and Nanguneri from its ally, the Congress.
The AIADMK had drawn a blank in the last April Lok Sabha elections in which the DMK-Congress led alliance won 38 out of 39 seats.The lone winner for AIADMK was Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam’s son Ravindranath in his native Theni district.
The AIADMK, however, won nine out of 22 Assembly by-elections held along with the Lok Sabha polls, leaving the other nine to DMK. With the latest by-election victories, the AIADMK has 11 more MLAs.
The Leader of the Opposition and DMK president M K Stalin raised the stakes in the bypolls by saying they would be a referendum on the Edappadi Government’s rule and a dress rehearsal for the next Assembly elections.
He should have known that the ruling party always wins in by-elections since Stalin’s elder and estranged brother M K Alagiri introduced what has come to be known as the Thirumangalam formula which means targeted bribing only fence-sitters.
The Karunanidhi Government from 2006 to 11 won all the by-elections thanks to this formula and yet lost in the general election in 2011 to AIADMK under Jayalalitha. So unpopular was the Karunanidhi’s last reign that Jayalalitha got even a second term in 2016, leaving the present Edappadi Government with a mandate to rule till 2021.
Stalin has said the by-elections are a temporary setback and the party would work harder to win the next general elections. Despite such posturing, Stalin was livid with rage over the defeat in Vikhravandi in Villupuram district and took district secretary and former Minister K Ponmudi to task.
When Ponmudi lamely said the AIADMK had won by splurging money, Rs 2000 per vote, Stalin reportedly asked him,”don’t we have money” .