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TN parties to face Tiruparankundram test before Lok Sabha polls
With the state CEO Satyabrata Sahoo declaring Tiruparankundram Assembly constituency vacant and expressing the commission’s preparedness to conduct by poll for the seat, all the major parties have a tough job at hand in the seat known as a citadel of the AIADMK ever since its inception.
The by election, which comes just ahead of the Parliament elections will also prove to be a test of strength of various parties, besides having a certain bearing on the alliance formations and seat negotiations for the Parliament elections. This could be the last chance before the Parliament polls for all the parties to prove their electoral strength to likely allies and foes.
For the ruling AIADMK, which lost the RK Nagar by poll to Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran, Tiruparankundram will be an opportunity to turn the tables and prove that its rival’s victory in RK Nagar by poll was just a flash in the pan. But, a loss in the constituency will be a major blow for the ruling party since the seat is considered to be a bastion of the AIADMK.
Unlike RK Nagar comprising voters from all communities and sections, Tiruparankundram is a rural seat which has a high concentration of Mukkulathor votes and this will prove to be a major hurdle for the AIADMK in facing the Dhinakaran-led challenge.
Dhinakaran had shown that he could win a city constituency by a big margin and his supporters feel that Tiruparankundram will be easier than RK Nagar. Dhinakaran had held all his key public meetings in Madurai and launched the AMMK in the southern town drawing huge crowds every time. He would try to prove that he could convert the crowd into votes and a second by poll win could draw the support of the AIADMK cadre and voters towards him.
The DMK had polled around 35 per cent votes in the seat in the past elections and it needs to prove its strength in Madurai, considered a weak area for the party even when Karunanidhi was active. Despite the DMK losing its deposit in the RK Nagar by poll last year, the ruling AIADMK and the supporters of RK Nagar legislator Dhinakaran see the principal opposition DMK as their only rival despite the political plunge taken by actors Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. It is not known if the two actors will enter the by poll fray.
Tiruparankundram was won by the AIADMK in the first Assembly elections it faced in 1977. Besides, the party has won the seat in 1980, 1984, 1991, 2001, 2006 and 2016 and its ally DMDK in 2011. The DMK had won the seat in 1967 and 1971 when matinee idol MGR was with the party. After the AIADMK was born, the DMK captured the seat in 1989 and 1996. It was a stronghold of Congress before the DMK ended the national party’s clout in 1967.