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Sankarankoil, a litmus test for ruling AIADMK

    P. Sudhakar
    S. Sundar
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The bypoll has got political overtones for varied reasons

: In normal course, the byelection to Sankarankoil Assembly constituency should have been simply yet another bypoll in the State. But, it has got political overtone for varied reasons.

The electioneering by the parties did not focus much on the constituency-specific issues, but one larger ones like power cut and increase of bus fare and milk price.

But for these two issues, the election would have been a cakewalk for the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, had expressed confidence in the Assembly that the people would understand the circumstances that led to the “nominal hike” and continue to support her government. But, the opposition parties played it up to their favour.

Ms. Jayalalithaa's poser to the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam to fight the bypoll alone forced her alliance partner in the Assembly election, turning against the ruling party. However, the Opposition failed to put up a united fight against AIADMK's S. Muthuselvi. Even the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president, M. Karunanidhi, expressed that his party was ready to field a common opposition candidate, only after announcing his party candidate, J. Jawahar Suryakumar, for the bypoll.

For the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which had not contested the Assembly election after parting ways with the AIADMK, the byelection became a prestige issue, as this reserve segment encompasses Kalingapatti, the native place of party's general secretary Vaiko.

While leaders of other political parties addressed people on the roadsides from the campaign vehicles or at public meetings, Mr. Vaiko gave his personal touch to the campaign by making door-to-door canvass.

The election also threw political surprises too. None of the Dalit parties came forward to contest in the Reserved Assembly constituency.

Another AIADMK ally in the Assembly election, Puthiya Thamizhagam, which condemned the ruling party in stronger terms for the Paramakudi firing incident, in which six Dalits were killed, all of a sudden backed the AIADMK in the election amidst rumours that the local Dalit leader and founder Thamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam B. John Pandian would extend support to the ruling party.

On its part, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, which was not seen close with the DMK after the Assembly election, too came back to its fold. However, none of the top leaders of the Congress that pledged support to the DMK in the byelection came for the campaign.

During her campaign, Ms. Jayalalithaa did not make any reference to the MDMK and the DMDK, but only charged against the DMK for selection of its candidate. Besides her entire cabinet members, the AIADMK was supported by alliance party leaders like Akhila India Samaththuva Makkal Katchi's R. Sarath Kumar and Puthiya Thamizhagam's K. Krishnasamy.

For the DMK, its treasurer, M.K. Stalin campaigned for three days, while his elder brother and Union Minister for Fertilizer allotted poll-related ‘assignments' to former DMK ministers, MLAs, MPs and monitored them.

Mr. Vijaykanth got the moral support from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) that had allied with the DMDK in the local body election. It was only the MDMK and the Bharatiya Janata Party that fought the election alone.

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