The ruling All- India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam pulled off an emphatic victory in the Sankarankoil Assembly by-election, recording a margin of victory of over 68,000 votes.

In winning the reserved seat for the fifth time in a row, the AIADMK crushed all the opponents forcing them to lose their deposit.

This is the second by-election victory for the ruling party since it came to power in May 2011. It won the Tiruchi (West) Assembly by-election last year.

The victorious candidate, S. Muthuselvi, secured 94,977 votes (59.44 per cent) of the total 1, 59,772 votes polled on March 18. She defeated her nearest rival J. Jawahar Suryakumar of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam by a massive margin of 68,757 votes. He could manage only 26, 220 votes.

Ms. Muthuselvi, who recorded a lead of over 3,700 votes in the first round itself, widened the margin throughout the 18 rounds of counting held in the S. Veerasamy Chettiar Engineering College in Puliyangudi on Wednesday.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa, who campaigned in the constituency for only one day, was the first to announce the candidate much before the election schedule was announced. The entire Cabinet camped in the constituency for more than a fortnight and sought to reach voters in every nook and corner.

T. Sadhan Thirumalaikumar of the MDMK came third with 20,678 votes. The MDMK fought the election after abstaining from the contest in the general election to the Assembly in 2011.

Vijayakanth's Desiya Murpokku Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMDMK)candidate K. Muthukumar, who got 12,144 votes, bettered his party's performance in the 2001 Assembly election when it garnered 5,531 votes. Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate L. Murugan could muster only 1,633 votes.

Out of the 16 postal ballots, 13 went in favour of the AIADMK and the rest to the MDMK.

The election was necessitated by the death of C. Karuppasamy, four-time MLA since 1996. Though the election campaign had passed off peacefully, the Opposition alleged that the ruling party distributed money to bribe the voters.

Ms. Muthuselvi, who was elected chairperson of the Sankarankoil Municipality in October 2011, resigned the post after she was declared the party candidate for the by-election. An engineering graduate, Ms. Muthuselvi is the daughter of the former MLA, Sankaralingam.

In the 2011 Assembly election, C. Karuppasamy of the AIADMK defeated his nearest DMK rival M. Umamaheswari by a margin of 10,395 votes. Karuppasamy polled 72, 297 votes.