Barring candidates of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munetra Kazhagam and the Dravida Munetra Kazhagam, nine independents are contesting in the Yercaud bypoll, the highest ever in the constituency.

These first time contestants are in the fray for different reasons.

They want to cash in on the support of friends and relatives. Some are contesting because both the major parties denied them ticket.

C. Manikandan (31) of Jalluthupatti near Panaimarathupatti has an M.A. in Economics and a B.Ed. and is working as a teacher in a private school. “I am in the fray to test how many friends and relatives stand by my side,” he said.

“I am sure that I will not even get back my deposit. I am hopeful of getting around 500 to 1,000 votes. Knowing these facts, I have not made any assurance or strained much for the campaign,” Mr. Manikandan said.

Farmers A. Rajakannu (31) of Suriyurpuralnatham and E. Ponnusamy (32) of Panaimarathupatti claimed that they were disappointed after the leading parties turned down their request for a seat. “It is sad that only the rich and influential can contest in elections,” they said.

Mr. Ponnusamy, who has been campaigning with the help of his friends and relatives for the past five days, is hopeful of bagging a good number of votes. Mr. Rajakannu is hopeful of getting back his deposit.

The expenditure details submitted by them to the Expenditure Observer on November 23 and 27 show many of them have not taken the election seriously.

Only two of them have spent more than Rs. 20,000 for the elections. Some candidates have spent only for the stamp paper for filing nominations and election deposit.

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