Tamil Nadu Assembly Bypolls: AIADMK Claims Both Seats, Congress Wins In Puducherry

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In Tamil Nadu, the ruling AIADMK has won both Assembly seats for which bypolls were conducted on Monday. The party won in Vikravandi, with R Muthamilselvan beating N Pugalenthi of the DMK by 44,924 votes, and Nanguneri, where V Narayanan beat Congress’s Ruby Manohar by 33,445 votes. There is better news for the Congress in neighbouring Puducherry, where A John Kumar beat Bouvanesvarane of the All India N.R. Congress by 7,170 votes.

Bypolls for Vikravandi were announced after the death of DMK MLA Rathamani, who won the seat in 2016 polls. The election in Nanguneri seat was made necessary after Congress leader H Vasantha Kumar was elected to Parliament in national polls in April-May.

Victory in Vikravandi and Nanguneri takes the AIADMK’s tally in the Tamil Nadu Assembly to 125, including the Speaker, and gives it six seats more than the halfway mark in the 234-seat house.

“The AIADMK will win the local body polls too. People have understood the lies spread by the DMK,” Chief Minister Edapadi K Palaniswami said, buoyed by his party’s performance in the bypolls.

The DMK, which is in alliance with the Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), and has 108 seats, would have hoped to win to continue its winning spree ahead of Assembly polls in 2021.

In May the DMK and its allies won 13 of 22 Assembly seats that were up for by-elections. It also won the Vellore Lok Sabha seat for which election had been suspended on corruption allegations.

This is the DMK’s first election since the elevation of party chief MK Stalin’s son, Udhayanidhi Stalin, as Youth Wing Secretary; the post had been previously held by Mr Stalin for 35 years.

The win for the AIADMK comes close on the heels of the state government playing its part as Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted China President Xi Jinping to a two-day informal summit at the temple town of Mamallapuram, which is less than 60 kilometres from the capital Chennai.

It also comes as relief after it suffered an embarrassing rout in Lok Sabha polls earlier this year.

Both Vikravandi and Nanguneri seats witnessed high-decibel campaigning with the Chief Minister, members of his cabinet and party leaders and allies working hard. The Chief Minister accused the opposition, the DMK, of making false promises.

The DMK, led by its chief MK Stalin, hit back by highlighting issues of corruption and pointing out the lack of good governance.

The AIADMK’s performance in these bypolls will be seen by many as the Chief Minister establishing his command over the party. Handpicked by influential party boss Sasikala to be her proxy after she was convicted in 2016, Edapadi K Palaniswami rebelled against her and even patched up with his challenger, O Panneerselvam, who is currently the Deputy Chief Minister.

“This is a clear verdict given by voters on who they want to rule Tamil Nadu,” CV Shanmugam, the Law Minister, said.

Meanwhile, in Puducherry, the ruling Congress’s John Kumar won the Kamaraj Nagar seat that fell vacant after former Speaker V Vaithilingam was elected to the Lok Sabha. The win means the Congress-DMK now has 19 seats in the 33-member house.

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