The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has retained the Pennagaram Assembly constituency, for which the by-election took place on Saturday, winning the seat by a margin of 36,384 votes.

While the Pattali Makkal Katchi finished second, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam forfeited its deposit. DMK nominee P.N.P. Inbasekaran secured 77,669 votes, ahead of the nearest rival G.K.M. Tamilkumaran (PMK), who got 41,285 votes.

All the other 29 contestants, including the AIADMK and the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam, lost their deposit. AIADMK candidate R. Anbalagan secured 26,787 votes and K.G. Kaverivarman of the DMDK 11,406 votes.

The by-election was necessitated by the death of DMK MLA P.N. Periyannan in December last.

The counting of votes was held amid tight security at the government arts college in Dharmapuri. After 18 rounds of counting, Returning Officer Maheshwari Ravikumar declared Mr. Inbasekaran the winner and presented the certificate of election to him at her chamber at the Dharmapuri Collectorate at 4-30 p.m. P. Amudha, Dharmapuri Collector, was present throughout the counting process.

This was the 11th by-election since October 2006. While the DMK won eight seats, its ally, Congress, bagged the rest. Apart from Pennagaram, the ruling party emerged victorious in Madurai Central (October 2006), Tirumangalam (January 2009), Bargur, Cumbum and Ilayangudi (August 2009), Tiruchendur and Vandavasi (December 2009), while the Congress captured the Madurai West (June 2007) and Srivaikuntam and Thondamuthur seats (August 2009).

Originally, the Pennagaram by-election was to be held in January. But, after accepting the demand of several Opposition parties, such as the AIADMK and the PMK, the Election Commission postponed it. Filing of nominations began on March 3 and ended on March 10. The total number of contestants was 31.

The constituency, part of the backward district of Dharmapuri, has a total of 2,01,008 voters, of whom men account for 1,12,892 and women 98,116. Nearly 85 per cent of voters exercised their franchise. Ten voters exercised the 49 ‘O' option of not to vote for any candidate.