RK Nagar bypoll: Tracing the evolution of Jayalalithaa’s fortress as prestige battleground for Tamil Nadu parties

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Updated: December 20, 2017 11:01:54 AM

RK Nagar bypoll: Many experts are comparing the election's importance with that of historic Dindigul Lok Sabha by-election of 1973.

RK Nagar bypoll: Three main contenders – Madhusudhanan of AIADMK (OPS-EPS), TTV Dhinakaran of AIADMK (Sasikala), Marudhu Ganesh of DMK are in fray.

RK Nagar is all set to vote in what is seen as a decider of the future in Tamil Nadu politics. Three main contenders – Madhusudhanan of AIADMK (OPS-EPS), TTV Dhinakaran of AIADMK (Sasikala), Marudhu Ganesh of DMK are in fray. On one hand, the high decibel battle will decide inheritance of Jayalalithaa’s legacy between OPS and Dhinakaran, on the other, DMK’s Stalin will fight to prove his mettle as working president of DMK. The bypoll gains significance as it will be the first electoral battle in Tamil Nadu since the demise of Jayalalithaa.Here, DMK will fight to deliver maximum blow to ruling party in a bid to send the signal that Tamil Nadu has rejected the ruling party.

Many experts are comparing the election’s importance with that of historic Dindigul Lok Sabha by-election of 1973. Dindigul was the first electoral battle after MG Ramachandran had parted ways with M Karunanidhi and founded AIADMK. Ramachandran had fielded K Mayathevar as a candidate for his newly launched party AIADMK for a by-election. Though Mayathevar was the candidate, the election was a test of Ramachandran’s popularity. In the end, MGR’s candidate won the elections by a decent margin. The elections brought overnight popularity to Ramachandran and AIADMK and same defined the future course of Tamil Nadu politics.

Similar is the contest between AIADMK (Sasikala) and AIADMK (OPS-EPS) this time. Also, there is a third and strong factor – Stalin’s DMK. It is interesting to watch if Stalin – touted to be the future of DMK – is able to exploit the chaos in the ruling party or not. Many pshephologists believe that unrest and leadership vacuum in AIADMK is not a guarantee for DMK victory in next Assembly elections in the state.

How RK Nagar became the battleground for Jayalalithaa

Even as there is high-focus on the constituency, it is interesting to know that this is not the actual traditional seat of late Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa. The seat came to focus when the former AIADMK chief won a by-election from here after her acquittal by the Karnataka High Court in a disproportionate assets case in 2015. Jayalalithaa won the election with 1.5 Lakh votes.

The Controversy

RK Nagar bypoll was earlier scheduled for April 12, 2017. The polls were cancelled by the EC following allegations of bribing of voters. In the same time period, the Income Tax department held searches on the premises of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar. Tax officials also raided the residences of minister’s associates. The documents seized in the raids allegedly revealed Rs 89 crore were routed for “distribution to voters.” The controversy created a storm in Tamil Nadu politics. It led to subsequent sidelining of her nephew TTV Dhinakaran, coup by Sasikala loyalist E Palaniswamy and his rise to the post of chief minister, merger of Panneerselvam and EPS camps.

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