AIADMK, DMK set for another battle in Nanguneri, Vikravandi bypolls

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The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) are all set for another electoral battle for the Assembly bypolls in Tirunelveli’s Nanguneri and Villuppuram’s Vikravandi constituencies, to be held on October 21.

While the MK Stalin-led DMK is looking upbeat after a stunning show in the Lok Sabha polls, wherein they won 24 seats on its own and 38 with allies, the AIADMK is in a combative mode after retaining 18 Assembly constituencies in the bypolls held on April 18.

As many as 90 people have filed their applications for prospective candidature for the two constituencies in Tamil Nadu.

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The two Dravidian parties are unlikely to leave any quarter for opponents, and have cancelled all other plans they had for October.

Also read: MNM not to contest Oct 21 bypolls to two Assembly segments in TN

While the DMK cancelled its general body meeting scheduled on October 6, senior leaders of the AIADMK, including deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, cancelled their foreign trips that they had planned for October.

The two Dravidian parties invited applications from prospective candidates soon after the poll schedule was announced.

The DMK has decided to contest from Vikravandi while its ally Congress will field a candidate in Nanguneri, which fell vacant with the resignation of the Congress MP H Vasanthakumar.

DMK sources said that since Vikravandi has a sizeable Vanniyar (Backward Caste) population, it would give ticket to a local candidate, belonging to the Vanniyar community.

“Most probably, the seat may be given to Pugalenthi, a district-level functionary in Villupuram district,” said a DMK source.

However, on Monday (September 23), Kallakuruchi MP Gautham Sigamani filed an application nominating DMK chief MK Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi Stalin as the prospective candidate from Vikravandi. Dismissing the possibility, DMK sources confirmed to The Federal that Udhayanidhi will not be given a seat now.

On the other hand, the AIADMK is contesting in both the Assembly constituencies, even though its ally PMK has greater prospects in Vikravandi.

AIADMK sources said 2016 Assembly election runner-up R Velu would be the candidate for this bypolls since he had lost the polls closely.

“Since it is a bye-election, the ruling party has more chances of winning and if the same candidate who lost by a minor margin is given a ticket again, it would be much easier,” a senior functionary in AIADMK, who did not want to be named, said.

Although Nanguneri is not AIADMK’s stronghold, the party believes that the arrest of former finance minister P Chidambaram would make a dent in the Congress fort.

Also read: Maharashtra, Haryana Assembly polls on Oct 21, verdict on Oct 24

“We are yet to decide on our candidates. As of now, Tirunelveli district functionary KRP Prabhakaran, who has been working for the party unit tirelessly to bring people from other parties, is being thought of by party heads,” a senior functionary said.

Political observer Ravindhran Duraisamy observed that bypolls in Tamil Nadu always favoured the ruling party.

“The vote share would also go up by 15% more than their normal share. Even if the opposition does all the caste and fame equations, it would always favour the ruling party,” Ravindhran said.

When asked about the nomination of Udhayanidhi Stalin, Ravindhran said it was just to create an image for the DMK scion and project him as one of the leaders. “DMK would not contest him in the bypolls since victory is not guaranteed.”

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