The Tamil Nadu state Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo said there are no blocks to hold bypolls to three Assembly constituencies — Thirupparankundram, Sulur and Ottapidaram — and a report has been sent to the Election Commission (EC) regarding this. He said once the EC approves, the bypolls can be conducted. Sahoo said that the administration has the voters list, EVM machines and staff strength to hold polls.
The petition before the Madras High Court against the 2016 elections in Ottapidaram has been withdrawn, while the HC, on Friday (March 23), ruled on the case filed against the election of AIADMK’s A K Bose in the Thirupparankundram seat. Sulur MLA R Kanagaraj died on March 21.
If the bypolls to these three seats are held along with the 18 others originally scheduled, then the DMK will get an outside chance of gaining a majority in the Assembly. The AIADMK would need to win at least three seats to retain power.
The AIADMK alliance bagged 136 seats in the 2016 Assembly elections. The rival DMK alliance won 98 seats. After 18 MLAs defected to the recently formed TTV Dhinakaran-led AMMK, the seats fell vacant, reducing the score of the AIADMK to 118. Hosur MLA Balakrishna Reddy’s seat became vacant after his disqualification due to a conviction in a criminal case. And the seat of former CM J Jayalalithaa went to TTV Dinakaran in the byelection. The Thiruparankundram constituency is vacant for the second time after the demise of A K Bose.
The recent demise of Sulur MLA R Kanagaraj brought the AIADMK tally down to 114 (excluding the Assembly speaker). This is a comfortable majority in the present house strength of 213 as the halfway mark is 107.
However, if the bypolls to 21 constituencies are indeed held, the ruling AIADMK would be required to prove a new majority number, that is, 117 seats. This means the party would need to win three seats to gain a majority. Although the Speaker can vote in case of a tie, parties would prefer to have a majority of their own.
The DMK alliance has a total of 98 seats in their kitty. A sweep in these bypoll seats would take it past the 117 mark and allow it to stake claim to form the government.