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Will Postponement of Tamil Nadu By-Polls Lead to More Uncertainty in State’s Politics?

The political scenario of Tamil Nadu has been unstable since its chief minister Jayalalithaa’s demise in December 2016.

Akileish Ramanathan | CNN-News18

Updated:October 10, 2018, 3:40 PM IST
Will Postponement of Tamil Nadu By-Polls Lead to More Uncertainty in State’s Politics?
MK Stalin

New Delhi: When the news of upcoming elections for five states was announced on October 6, dates for by-polls in Tamil Nadu — where two constituencies Thiruparankundram and Tiruvarur remain vacant since August — were also expected to be announced. But Central Election Commission (CEC) declined to do so, citing a note from the State’s chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan.

In the letter, Vaidyanathan said the situation is not conducive to conducting polls as heavy rains are expected during the next three months and a case is pending in the Madras High Court against the by elections held in Thiruparankundram constituency in 2016.

Located in southern Tamil Nadu’s Madurai district, Thiruparankundram was one of the constituencies the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) won in the 2016 assembly elections. The winning candidate, SM Seenivel, died within a week of the victory.

Byelections were held in November and AIADMK candidate AK Bose won the constituency. Following this, the opposition candidate, P Saravanan of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), moved the Madras High Court to challenge the validity of Bose’s nomination.

Bose died earlier this year on August 2, leaving the constituency vacant twice in two years. Five days after his death, former chief minister and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi died on August 7, causing a vacancy in his constituency of Tiruvarur.

Victory in these two byelections might be the initial signs of success for the new DMK President MK Stalin. Tiruvarur is regarded as a DMK stronghold – the DMK won the constituency seven times since 1971 and Karunanidhi himself was elected twice in 2011 and 2016 from there. On the contrary, Thiruparankundram has been favourable for the AIADMK as the party won eight times since 1977 (including Bose’s victory).

For the DMK, wresting Thiruparankundram from the AIADMK could be an uphill task. It faces explicit competition from two sides -- the AIADMK that is trying hard to prove its electoral legitimacy after the death of former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, and from the recently-floated Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) led by T.T.V Dhinakaran, who is vying to repeat the victory in R.K Nagar last December.

Moreover, an internal competition might arise from Stalin’s elder brother MK Alagiri, who staged a rebellion of sorts against Stalin after Karunanidhi’s death and yet declared that he is ready to accept Stalin as his leader if he is re-admitted into the DMK. Alagiri was expelled from the party by Karunanidhi himself in 2014 and remained in political hibernation until his father’s death.

The political scenario of Tamil Nadu has been unstable since Jayalalithaa’s demise in December 2016. From last week’s allegations from Dhinakaran that the deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam wanted to collude with him and topple chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami’s government, to governor Banwarilal Purohit accusing of corruption in the appointment of vice-chancellors to state universities, the recent political turmoil in the State does not seem to be in favour of the ruling AIADMK. In this context, the deferment of these bypolls could possibly add to the uncertainty in the politics of Tamil Nadu.

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