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CHENNAI: RK Nagar is gearing up once again for what could turn out to be the
mother of all bypolls+
– for the significance of its outcome as well as for the money power that could be on display to influence voters. This is the constituency where byelection was rescinded in April this year after the income tax department found that Rs 89 crore was distributed to voters by just one candidate’s agents.
It’s a do-or-die battle for both the EPS-OPS combine and DMK leader M K Stalin. No ruling party has lost a byelection in Tamil Nadu since 1999, but the present ruling dispensation, despite regaining the AIADMK party name and symbol, is on a shaky wicket. If it loses, it would be a reiteration of the all-pervading public antipathy towards the governance at play.
The psychological fallout of a loss could impact the minority government, whose existence hinged on a bunch of court cases, whereas a victory for the ruling party will reaffirm Edappadi K Palaniswami’s leadership in the party and the government. Whether the result would influence the 20 rebel MLAs is what one needs to wait and watch.
But for the anti-incumbency factor, the ruling combine is capable of romping home with a decent win. It was the same team that scripted success in the three byelections – Thirupparankundram, Aravakurichi and Thanjavur – when Jayalalithaa was hospitalised a year ago. The difference now is that Jayalalithaa is no more and V K Sasikala is in jail. More than the absence of Sasikala, the AIADMK will be handicapped by the onslaught of the Mannargudi family,
headed by T T V Dhinakaran+
, said political analyst M Kasinathan.
A victory is a dire necessity for the DMK also to keep its cadres’ spirits and hopes high. A defeat, apart from demoralising the leaders and cadres, will reflect the leadership deficit of Stalin. More significantly, it will raise doubts about winnability of the DMK as a party in future elections too, because opposition parties seldom get such conducive electoral atmosphere, said political analyst Raveenthiran Doraisamy.
Dhinakaran’s presence in the fray will further raise the mercury. Unlike last time, Dhinakaran is not a major force to reckon with now. He will have to strain every nerve to put up a decent show and regroup vestiges of the support base.
The BJP is yet to announce its decision about fielding a candidate in the byelection. A decision is likely to be taken on Saturday, said the party’s senior leader and Rajya Sabha MP L Ganesan.
The I-T department has already activated its machinery to keep a tab on money distribution in the constituency. A repeat of what happened in the previous campaign may result in the byelection getting rescinded once again.