18 bypolls with Lok Sabha election to seal Tamil Nadu govt fatehttps://indianexpress.com/elections/18-bypolls-with-lok-sabha-election-to-seal-tamil-nadu-govt-fate-5619755/

18 bypolls with Lok Sabha election to seal Tamil Nadu govt fate

The results of 18 Assembly bypolls that would be conducted alongside the general election would be more crucial as they would decide the state government’s fate.

Lok Sabha Election 2019, Tail nadu elections, Edappadi K Palaniswami, O Panneerselvamm, AIADMK BJP alliance, DMK congress alliance, MK stalin, Dhinakaran, indian express
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and senior leaders of AIADMK and PMK show a signed copy of alliance agreement for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, in Chennai. (PTI Photo/File)

Thirty-eight days from now, alliances led by the AIADMK and DMK will take on each other for Lok Sabha polls in 39 Tamil Nadu constituencies. But for the two Dravidian parties, the results of 18 Assembly bypolls that would be conducted alongside the general election would be more crucial as they would decide the state government’s fate.

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While 21 Assembly constituencies currently do not have sitting MLAs, Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo clarified on Sunday that bypolls to Ottapidaram, Aravakurichi and Tiruparankundram cannot be held immediately due to pending petitions.

Top AIADMK leaders said the elections are now as much about ensuring the BJP’s victory at the Centre as about the stability of the Edappadi K Palaniswami government in the state.

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In the 234-member Assembly, the AIADMK currently has the support of 108 MLAs. “We have to win at least 9 bypolls to retain the majority. If we fail, this government will fall,” said a senior AIADMK minister.

The DMK leadership led by party chief M K Stalin is confident of a good show both in the general election and the Assembly bypolls. “We estimate that we will win more than 30 Lok Sabha seats in Lok Sabha and more than 15 seats in the bypolls. It is almost certain that Tamil Nadu will not only get a new government at the Centre, but also a new government in the state,” said a senior DMK leader.

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In the absence of two veterans — the late J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi — voters in Tamil Nadu are likely to consider some new faces in the state's political landscape this election season. While rebel AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran is likely to get the support of first-time voters, minorities and ‘unhappy’ AIADMK followers who oppose the BJP, actor Kamal Haasan’s party may cause minor shifts in vote percentage and spoil chances of the bigger parties.

Also in the fray are AIADMK rebel leader T T V Dhinakaran, who is now leading Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), and the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) led by actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan.

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Dhinakaran, who has already held over 40 public rallies, has two objectives in this election — ensuring the ouster of the incumbent AIADMK government and getting a minimum of 10 per cent vote share in the general election. Haasan’s MNM has decided to contest alone in all constituencies and expects to get at least 4 per cent vote share.

“If there is a shift of votes from AIADMK to Dhinakaran, it will make our victory sweeter. Anti-BJP sentiments in rural regions and strong anti-incumbency factor against AIADMK government are other factors that will benefit us,” a DMK leader said.