All four candidates are from southern districts
In a move aimed at consolidating its support base in the southern Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Thursday fielded candidates, hailing from these districts, for four of the six Rajya Sabha seats, falling vacant in April.
Tirunelveli and Tuticorin Mayors Vigila Sathyanand and L. Sasikala Pushpa are among the candidates of the ruling party. [An official says these two nominees have to quit their posts as they should not hold office of profit at the time of filing nomination for the elections].
The other two nominees are S. Muthukaruppan, the party district secretary for Tirunelveli city unit, and N. Chinnadurai, Tuticorin district chairman and joint secretary of the party's youth wing.
In the previous round of biennial elections to the Upper House, none of the AIADMK’s four candidates was from the southern districts.
The 42-year-old Chinnadurai, who has been the Tuticorin's district chairman, was originally included in the candidates' list for the 2011 Assembly elections for the Ottapidaram constituency. Later, he was dropped to accommodate K. Krishnasamy, president of the Puthiya Tamizhagam, which was the AIADMK’s ally then.
Likewise, Ms Pushpa was originally nominated for the Radhapuram constituency, but eventually, the constituency was allotted to the AIADMK’s then ally, Desiya Munnetra Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK). While Ms. Sathyanand is also the secretary of the women's wing of the Tirunelveli city unit of the party, the 37-year-old Pushpa is the State secretary of the women's wing of the party.
Ms. Pushpa, who was elected as Tuticorin Mayor in the 2011 local body election, is a native of Adayal, a village in Sathankulam taluk.
Ms. Sathyanand, a CSI Christian from Pillai community, was an entrepreneur, running a browsing firm in Tiruneveli city when she became the member of AIADMK in 1998. She became the Mayor in 2011, defeating DMK nominee S. Amutha by a margin of about 24,600 votes.
Mr. Muthukaruppan, a 56-year-old lawyer from Thevar community, became a member of AIADMK when M.G.Ramachandran was the Chief Minister. After the AIADMK’s split following the party founder M.G. Ramachandran’s death, Mr. Muthukaruppan stood by the faction led by the late leader’s widow Janaki Ramachandran and he was made the district secretary. After the factions merged to emerge stronger under the leadership of Ms. Jayalalithaa, he was made district joint secretary and then the organising secretary.
Making the announcements, Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister and the AIADMK general secretary, stated that her party would support the candidate of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for one of the seats from Tamil Nadu to the Upper House. Meanwhile, the Chief Minister returned to Chennai on Thursday afternoon.
Polling, if required, will take place on February 7. The AIADMK-led front, given its present position in the Assembly, is expected to win five seats.
On Tuesday, Tiruchi N. Siva of the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) filed nomination papers.
The nomination of Ms. Pushpa and Ms. Sathyanand points to a recent trend of the AIADMK sending those who have gained experience in running the affairs of local bodies to the Legislative Assembly or Parliament.
S. Muthuselvi (Sankarankoil) and Karthik Thondaiman (Pudukottai), who were elected to the Assembly in by-elections in March and June 2012, were the chairpersons of the municipalities of Sankarankoil and Pudukottai before they contested in the polls.
(with inputs from P. Sudhakar in Tirunelveli and Praveen Paul Joseph in Tuticorin)