DMK candidate Kathir Anand wins Vellore Lok Sabha seat in nail-biting finishhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/dmk-kathir-anand-clinches-vellore-lok-sabha-seat-in-a-nail-biting-finish-aiadmk-5892413/

DMK candidate Kathir Anand wins Vellore Lok Sabha seat in nail-biting finish

Thanking voters in the constituency for their support, DMK chief M K Stalin said people have rejected AIADMK's fake propaganda. "I thank the voters for helping DMK capture the Vellore fort. Once again you have proved that DMK's victory can only be delayed but cannot be stopped," he said.

Kathir Anand, DMK, Vellore
DMK candidate Kathir Anand.

DMK’s Kathir Anand won the Vellore Lok Sabha seat on Friday, defeating AIADMK’s A C Shanmugam with a margin of 8,141 votes. Vellore was the only constituency in the entire country that did not vote in the April-May Lok Sabha elections, as polls were cancelled after the seizure of illegal currency from the house of DMK stalwart Duraimurugan.

The polling for the seat was held on August 5 which saw nearly 14.32 lakh voters spread across six Assembly segments casting their votes. Nearly 71.51 per cent votes were polled through the EVM and VVPAT system.

Thanking voters in the constituency for their support, DMK chief M K Stalin said people have rejected AIADMK’s fake propaganda. “I thank the voters for helping DMK capture the Vellore fort. Once again you have proved that DMK’s victory can only be delayed but cannot be stopped,” he said.

Early trends

The counting of votes for the Vellore Lok Sabha constituency began at 8 am this morning at a centre set up on the premises of an engineering college in the city with three-tier tight security, officers told news agency PTI.

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Since morning, though AIADMK was ahead of DMK, the margin which had crossed 15,000 votes fell to 6,362 votes by the 10th round. AIADMK was confident that its margin over its rival would go up and they would be able to retain the constituency. Tables turned when DMK was able to clock in a total of 4,85,340 votes whereas the ruling party was pushed to the second position on the table with 4,77,199 votes.

Earlier, a senior DMK leader had said that the party would have fared better if TTV Dhinakaran was contesting. “There were no factors to split AIADMK votes when they used maximum state machinery to win this election with power,” the leader said. “These are initial trends, this will change soon,” he had added.

Both the key contenders as well as party chiefs were seen canvassing for votes in the constituency as Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam joined party candidate Shanmugam in his campaign, whereas M K Stalin and youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin campaigned for Anand.

Numbers in the state Assembly

Tamil Nadu’s 38 seats minus Vellore voted on April 19. With today’s win, the number of MPs in the DMK-Congress alliance in Tamil Nadu has risen to 38. The counting process in Vellore was a close competition, much like the election in the constituency itself, with the trends continuously juggling in favour of both the parties.

In a surprising move on Wednesday, Tamil Nadu CM Palaniswami had dropped state’s Information and Technology Minister Dr M Manikandan from the council of ministers. It was the first time since becoming the Chief Minister in 2017 that Edappadi had dropped a minister. The Tamil Nadu government’s cabinet’s strength has now reduced to 31.

Vellore is known for its sizeable minority population, which includes 21 per cent Muslims and 9 per cent Christians, besides 20 per cent Dalit votes.

Why were the polls in Vellore cancelled?

Vellore was initially scheduled to go to polls with the rest of Tamil Nadu on April 18. However, after cash seizures from the house of DMK leader Duraimurugan, the Election Commission recommended that the elections be cancelled citing the suspected use of money power to influence voters. However, Duraimurugan wasn’t flustered about the seizure that led to the cancellation of the election, and had termed it as EC’s “mistake”. Based on Income Tax and police reports, the state poll watchdog had alleged that Duraimurugan’s son and DMK candidate Kathir Anand who emerged victorious today, had kept the money to distribute among voters.