Putting up an improved showing over the Assembly election, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Thursday retained the Tiruchi West Assembly seat with its candidate M. Paranjothi defeating former Transport Minister K.N. Nehru of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam by a margin of 14,684 votes in the by-election.

Mr. Paranjothi secured 69,029 votes against Mr. Nehru's 54,345. All the other 14 candidates, 11 Independents and three representing the All India Uzhavar Uzhaippalar Katchi, Lok Satta Party and Indiya Jananayaka Katchi, lost their deposit.

The by-election was necessitated by the death of Minister for Environment, N. Mariam Pichai, in a road accident.Both the AIADMK and the DMK faced the by-election without allies. All other major parties stayed away from the contest.

This is the second successive defeat for Mr. Nehru in constituency; he had lost to Mariam Pichai by a margin of 7,179 votes in the Assembly election.

Despite a drop in voter turnout (61.15% against 74.93% votes polled in the Assembly election), the AIADMK managed a higher victory margin.

Mr. Paranjothi built up a steady lead right from round one. Mr. Nehru could better him only in one of the 18 rounds; in round 17, polling 219 votes more than Mr. Paranjothi. Securing all the five postal votes was the only other consolation for the DMK. Mr. Nehru was released from jail just a couple of days ahead of the by-election, and did not campaign.