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Snapshot of the battle for Fort St George
Among the ones who emerged successful in this election, the victory of a few of the candidates was particularly noteworthy for the import is has on the State’s politics in the coming days.
Udhayanidhi Stalin, Chepauk-Tiruvallikeni
DMK youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin secured his maiden Assembly election victory from Chepauk-Tiruvallikeni constituency. Udhayanidhi, one of the star candidates of the DMK who went on a whirlwind tour of the State, won by a margin of over 69,000 votes, more than his father, MK Stalin, who had stretched his lead to only over 51,000 votes at 9pm Sunday. The DMK youth wing secretary whose 'AIIMS' brick campaign created a buzz in the campaign, so much so that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded to it in his campaign speech, posted a photograph on his official Twitter handle where he was seen ‘gifting’ the brick to his victorious father at his home in the company of his sons and nephews and nieces. Early Sunday evening, Udhayanidhi, accompanied by his relative and Central Chennai MP Dayanidhi Maran, collected his certificate of victory from the returning officer of the constituency.
MK Stalin, Kolathur
DMK president and chief-Ministerial candidate MK Stalin won the Kolathur constituency for a third time, trouncing his AIADMK rival candidate Aadhi Jayaram with a whopping margin of more than 51,000 votes. Stalin first won Kolathur in 2011, following a pitched battle with AIADMK’s Saidai Duraisamy by a slender margin of less than 3,000 votes. He contested again from Kolathur in 2016 and defeated JCD Prabhakaran of the AIADMK by around 38,000 votes. The high-profile constituency was one of the few seats with the highest number of contenders, most of whom lost their deposits.
It was literally a nail-biting, heart-thumping day filled with twists and turns before DMK general secretary Duraimurugan finally emerged victorious from Katpadi constituency by a slender margin of 746 votes. In the initial period, it looked as if the party veteran was heading for an upset defeat: his main rival, V Ramu of the AIADMK, led the first 10 rounds to garner a total lead of around 6,000 votes. But from that point, Duraimurgan clawed back to garner a total lead of around 6,000 votes. But from that point, Duraimurgan clawed back till the final 25th round. Adding further drama, five EVMs malfunctioned and votes registered on them could be counted after all the 25 rounds were completed. In the end, Duraimurugan received 85,150 votes to Ramu’s 84,394.
EV Velu, Tiruvannamalai
The election campaign did not start on a bright note for DMK satrap EV Velu, whose residences and educational institutions his family runs were searched by central agencies on suspicion of hoarding cash to be distributed to voters. However, in the end, it did not seem to matter to the strongman from Tiruvannamalai, who is part of Stalin’s inner circle and is sure to land a plum post in the coming cabinet. Facing a BJP candidate from the AIADMK-led alliance, Velu received 1,37,876 votes while the former managed to get only 43,203 votes. This victory, by a margin of 94,673 votes, is the second highest recorded in the State in this Assembly election.
Edappadi K Palaniswami, Edappadi
There were no doubts about his victory, but the margin with which AIADMK leader and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami secured his victory from his home constituency was sparkling. This was the fifth time EPS won the State Assembly election, and the third consecutive one. In the last election in 2016, he won with a margin of 42,022 votes against PMK’s N Annadurai – the DMK candidate was pushed to the third spot. This time, the gap widened by more than double when he received 1,63,154 votes to trounce the main rival, DMK candidate Sampath Kumar, who managed to get on 69,352 votes, enabling him to register an emphatic victory with a margin of 93,802. However, he may not be in a mood to savour his success to the fullest, as his government was unseated by the DMK.
The results declared on Sunday left a few of the leaders from all parties with a bitter note, especially for some who expected to win or at least put up a spirited fight:
KC Veeramani, Jolorpet
The margin was small, but for Commercial Taxes Minister KC Veeramani, the loss to DMK’s K Devaraji by 906 votes from Jolorpet still means he won’t return to the Assembly this time after two consecutive victories. Sources said there are not many who are lamenting his defeat because there were complaints about his functioning. He did not allow a second line of leadership to come up, going as far as ensuring that his cabinet colleague, Nilofer Kafeel, was not given a ticket this time, said a party senior from the district. His detractors even alleged that Devaraji, a greenhorn, was fielded against him as part of the deal with DMK leaders here, which, however, did not help in the end.
Premalatha Vijayakant, Vridhachalam
DMDK Treasurer Premalatha Vijayakant, who was expected to win in her maiden election, lost in Vridhachalam constituency by a big margin. Six elections after DMDK was founded, Premalatha decided to contest in Vridhachalam in 2021 election, in the same constituency from where her husband and DMDK founder Vijayakant contested in 2006. After Vijayakant, DMDK had once again contested in Vridhachalam and has won in 2011. Vridhachalam constituency was considered a strong fort of DMDK. A tough three-way contest with Premalatha winning was expected but she finished third, behind Congress and PMK candidates. Premalatha secured only 16,823 votes against Vijayakant’s 61,337 votes in 2006. She lost the deposit amount.
Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman, who contested in his second assembly election, garnered close to 45,000 votes in Tiruvottiyur constituency but finished third after DMK and AIADMK candidates. Seeman got 42,407 votes in Thiruvottiyur and was behind AIADMK candidate Kuppan by a slender margin of 1,800. Seeman obtained more than 20 per cent of the votes polled in the constituency, more than any other NTK candidate in the State. He, for the first time, contested in 2016 election from Cuddalore, where he obtained only 12,497 votes without aligning with any political party. Seeman contested alone in this election too but obtained more than 300 per cent of votes compared to the previous election.
TTV Dhinakaran, Kovilpatti
It was considered to be a clever move when AMMK general secretary TTV Dhinakaran announced his candidature from Kovilpatti Assembly constituency, taking on Minister Kadambur C Raju. He also had tailwinds provided by the massive victory in the three-cornered bypoll from RK Nagar in Chennai that was left vacant after the death of chief minister J Jayalalithaa. However, not only did he lose to Raju, a two-time MLA from Kovilpatti, the defeat was not even as close as it looked in the initial rounds of counting – Raju secured 68,556 votes to Dhinakaran’s 56,153, a margin of 12,403 votes.
Kamal Haasan, Coimbatore South
Actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam president Kamal Haasan lost the Coimbatore South Assembly seat by a narrow margin of 1,439 votes to BJP’s women wing’s national head Vanathi Srinivasan in a tough three-cornered contest. Initially tipped to be a two-cornered fight between Haasan and Vanathi, there was a seesaw battle between the actor and Congress candidate Mayura Jayakumar in the earlier trends. Vanathi took the first lead in the 23rd round and emerged victorious at the end of the 26th round. It will be a big disappointment to the supporters of the MNM as Haasan had spent a considerable amount of time campaigning for himself there. Moreover, the MNM-led alliance failed to win even a single seat in the polls.
D Jayakumar, Royapuram
Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar lost in his stronghold Royapuram constituency to DMK candidate and businessman IDream R Murthy with a margin of 19,082 votes. Jayakumar has been contesting from Royapuram since 1991 and has been victorious five times. He was contesting for the seventh consecutive time from Royapuram. He won in 1991 and then in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016. He contested in 1996, too, but lost to the DMK candidate. R Murthy, aka IDream Murthy, is yet another maiden contestant, representing DMK. The proprietor of IDream cinemas in Royapuram, Murthy has been associated with the DMK for many decades now.
Khushbu Sundar, Thousand Lights
Actor-politician Khushbu Sundar, who made her electoral debut for the BJP against DMK’s newbie Ezhilan N at Thousand Lights constituency lost by more than 30,000 votes until reports last came in. Khushbu, who was the most prominent face of the BJP in the city, was expected to pull off a win or at least put up a spirited fight. Her aggressive campaign and her reported ability to connect with women voters were touted to be the plus points, as was her constant engagement on social media. However, none of this seemed to have mattered in the end as Thousand Lights, a DMK bastion until recently, decided to retain their loyalty with the Dravidian party.