Former MLA T. Sadan Thirumalaikumar is the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) candidate for the by-election to Sankarankoil (reserved) constituency.

Talking to reporters, MDMK general secretary Vaiko said as many as eight persons had applied for the seat and the party's administrative council had unanimously chosen Dr Thirumalaikumar.

A medical doctor by profession, 59-year-old Thirumalaikumar was elected to the Assembly in 2006 from Vasudevanallur (reserved) constituency, defeating CPI(M)'s Krishnan over a margin 7,621 votes. He was the leader of the MDMK group in that House.

Expressing confidence that his party would win the seat, Mr Vaiko said MDMK's victory would be a warning bell to the ruling AIADMK, which he said had been functioning in an arbitrary manner with scant regard for democracy Mr Vaiko said Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's assertion in the Assembly that her party would retain the Sankarankoil constituency despite the increase in milk price and bus fare showed that she did not respect the people's feelings.

“We will project MDMK as an alternative to the AIADMK as well as the DMK, which is part of the anti-Tamil Congress-led UPA at the Centre. We will approach voters with a request to give us representation in the Assembly,” he said. Mr Vaiko said if the MDMK won the by-election, it would be a “turning point” in Tamil Nadu politics that would lead to the emergence of a political system under which there will be a clean administration. It would free the state from the evil of state-run retail liquor shops and people's dependence on freebies.

He said Mr Thirumalaikumar would file his nomination on February 24 and the campaign would begin the next day.

Asked about DMK president M. Karunanidhi's remarks that his party would consider the possibility of avoiding splitting of opposition votes, if other parties too had the same idea, Mr. Vaiko said he was not aware of it.