RK Nagar by-election: What the battle to inherit Jayalalithaa’s legacy tells us about Tamil Nadu politics

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Updated: December 6, 2017 12:49:28 PM

The stage is set for first straight battle - RK Nagar bypoll - the fight to inherit Amma's legacy.

RK Nagar by-election: The battle to inherit Jayalalithaa's legacyThe stage is set for first straight battle – RK Nagar bypoll – the fight to inherit Amma’s legacy.

Tamil Nadu politics has seen all – fall and rise of new governments, the meteoric rise of leaders, political coups since Jayalalitha’s demise last year. Now, the stage is set for first straight battle – RK Nagar bypoll – the fight to inherit Amma’s legacy. While AIADMK’s warring EPS-OPS and Sasikala factions are fighting for the legacy, Stalin-led DMK is fighting to deliver maximum FATALITY to ruling party, thereby trying to send the signal that it has Tamil Nadu has rejected the ruling party. The elections have become more interesting due to several reasons – charges of bribing voters on Sasikala’s camp and subsequent sideling of her nephew Dinakaran, coup by Sasikala loyalist E Palaniswamy and his rise to the post of chief minister, merger of Panneerselvam and EPS camps. Also, Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa and actor Vishal were two other high profile candidates who had filed nomination papers (now rejected by EC) from here.

If the battle is equally important for the DMK’s Stalin as it comes in the backdrop of his elevation as party’s working president. It remains to be seen if the Stalin – touted to be the future of DMK – is able to exploit the chaos in the ruling party or not. Also, poll pundits believe that unrest and leadership vacuum in AIADMK is not a guarantee for DMK victory in next Assembly elections in the state.

For Stalin, AIADMK is not the only challenge. The DMK scion also faces the challenge of establishing himself as a leader for the state, pacifying protesting voices like Kamal Haasan, and the challenge to fill the huge number gap in terms of elected legislators in the state.

The battle draws sharp resemblance with Dindigul Lok Sabha by-election which took place four-and-half decades ago. In 1973, MG Ramachan fielded K Mayathevar as a candidate for his newly initiated party AIADMK for a by-election. Mayathevar won the elections with a decent margin.  The election won overnight popularity to Ramachandran and AIADMK  and same defined the future course of Tamil Nadu politics.

Here are some facts to know about the RK Nagar bypoll

Candidates: There are three main candidates who are fighting the election here. AIADMK (Sasikala) has fielded TTV Dhinakaran, AIADMK has fielded Madhusudhanan, while DMK has pinned hopes on Marudhu Ganesh.

Issues: The constituency received special attention from the state government ever since Jayalalithaa was elected an MLA from here in 2015. However, the development works were slowed down after her demise. Recently, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami passed an order to construct houses for fishermen, which reportedly promised by Jayalalithaa during her 2016 election campaign.

However, allotment of housing board homes and water availability issues remain as problems. As per a report, there are more than 2,000 homes which are not more than 300 square feet lacking basic facilities such as proper sewage connection and drinking water.

Controversy: Earlier, the by-polls were scheduled for April 12, 2017 but were cancelled by the EC following allegations of bribing of voters. During the same period of time, the Income Tax department held searches on the premises of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar. The IT department had also raided the residences of minister’s associates. The documents seized in the raids allegedly revealed that Rs 89 crore were routed for “distribution to voters”.

The officials had alleged that the VK Sasikala faction of the party paid money to voters to buy support for its candidate TTV Dinakaran, who is also her nephew. As evidence, the department had cited documents seized during raids on Friday in more than 35 places – including properties of the state health minister C Vijayabaskar.

Later, DMK working president Stalin had demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. He had said that Palaniswami, who was in Sasikala’s camp at that time, had distributed cash for votes.

Date: The election will take place on December 21.

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