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Southern States - Tamil Nadu

The conundrum in an AIADMK stronghold
By T. Ramakrishnan

CHENNAI, JAN. 19. No AIADMK candidate, who stood in or won from the Andipatti Assembly constituency, has contested the seat again.

This has been the case since the 1977 elections. That year marked the first general election contested by the AIADMK, which was founded in 1972 by M.G. Ramachandran.

It is surprising, because the constituency has returned AIADMK candidates on five out of seven occasions in the last 25 years. Only in 1989 and 1996 could the DMK wrest the seat and in both these elections, the party was voted to power.

In 1977, K. Kandasamy became the first AIADMK candidate who got elected to the Assembly, with a margin of about 8,000 votes over his nearest rival. Three years later, it was the film star, S.S. Rajendran of the AIADMK, who won the seat and the margin was much higher-a little short of 28,000 votes.

In 1984, the constituency hit the headlines as the then Chief Minister, MGR, chose to contest from Andipatti. As he was in the U.S. for medical treatment during electioneering, MGR did not go to Andipatti. But, this posed no difficulty to the AIADMK and the winning margin shot up to about 32,500 votes.

MGR died in December 1987 and the next elections to the Legislature took place in January 1989. This time, the DMK won and the winner was P. Asaiyan, who has been contesting from the same place on DMK ticket since then.

More importantly, the runner-up then was V. Pannerselvam of the AIADMK (Jayalalithaa faction) and the widow of MGR, Janaki Ramachandran of the AIADMK (Janaki faction), finished third. Mr. Asaiyan's margin was about 4,220 votes.

Two years later, the AIADMK recaptured the seat and its nominee, K. Thavasi, defeated Mr. Asaiyan by a margin of around 42,300 votes.

In 1996, it was Mr. Asaiyan who bagged the seat again, polling about 13,700 votes more than what was secured by A. Muthiah of the AIADMK. Last year, Thanga Tamizh Selvan of the AIADMK was elected and Mr. Asaiyan finished the runner-up. The margin was a little more than 25,000 votes.

In September last, Mr. Thanga Tamizh Selvan resigned his seat, to enable his party chief, Jayalalithaa, to contest from the constituency. A couple of days ago, She announced her candidature.

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