The ruling AIADMK on Wednesday finalised the distribution of constituencies to two of its allies, the BJP and the PMK, and released its second list of candidates for 171 seats.
Ministers Nilofer Kafeel (Vaniyambadi), S. Valarma-thi (Srirangam) and G. Baskaran (Sivaganga) and 44 sitting MLAs did not figure in it. There was no surprise over the distribution of constituencies and the selection of the AIADMK’s candidates, except for a few omissions. The second list contained 14 women and 28 nominees from the Scheduled Castes.
A Minister said it had 10 nominees from religious minorities, including two Muslims, and “this is a record of sorts for the party”.
Later, the AIADMK announced that five constituencies — Perambur, Egmore, Kilvaithinan- kuppam, Kumbakonam and Madurai (Central) — had been allotted to the Perunthalaivar Makkal Katchi, the Tamilaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, Puratchi Bharatham, the Moovendar Munnetra Kazhagam and the Pasumpon Desiya Kazhagam respectively.
The five parties will contest on the AIADMK’s ‘Two Leaves’ symbol.
The identification of constituencies for the allies and the selection of the ruling party’s candidates followed discussions held by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, who are the party’s co-coordinator and co-ordinator respectively, with their party colleagues in the last four-five days, apart from their meetings with BJP and PMK leaders on Tuesday night and in the early hours of Wednesday.
With the release of the second list of nominees, the AIADMK has so far identified 177 candidates, including the six in the first list. Forty-eight seats had been distributed to other parties, including the five smaller parties, which would contest on the AIADMK’s symbol. There are 9 more seats to be allotted to the constituents of the alliance.
Among the high-profile contestants are the party’s deputy coordinators, K.P. Munusamy and R. Vaithilingam, now Members of the Rajya Sabha. Both lost in the 2016 Assembly election. They will contest from Veppannahalli and Orathanadu. Ministers K.A. Sengottaiyan, K. Pandiarajan, O.S. Manian, P. Thangamani, S.P. Velumani, V. Saroja, V.M. Rajalakshmi, K.P. Anbalagan, K.C. Veeramani and M.C. Sampath have been renominated to contest from their constituencies.
Two senior members — former Chennai Mayor Saidai S. Duraisamy and former Minister K.P. Krishnan — have been nominated from Saidapet and Srirangam. By renominating former police officer and Chairperson of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission R. Natraj from Mylapore, the AIADMK ensured that the seat remained with it, given reports that the BJP was keen on it. In the 2001 Assembly election, the BJP, then an ally of the DMK, won from Mylapore.
Of the 23 constituencies given to the PMK and 20 to the BJP, the ruling party parted with 11 constituencies held by its members. Among the party veterans who were left out are S. Semmalai (Mettur) and S.T.K. Jakkaiyan (Cumbum). While Mettur was allotted to the PMK, Cumbum went to the ruling party’s Theni district unit secretary and former Member of Parliament S.P.M. Syed Khan.
Two prominent faces of the party in the southern districts — Minister K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji and V.V. Rajan Chellappa — have been shifted from Sivakasi and Madurai (North) to Rajapalayam and Thiruparankundram. While Sivakasi has been given to the party’s functionary in Virudhunagar (West) Lakshmi Ganesan, Madurai (North) has been allotted to the BJP. P.R.G. Arunkumar, who represents Coimbatore (North), has been put up at Kavundampalayam and Amman K. Arjunan of Coimbatore (South) will now contest from Coimbatore (North). The BJP has been given Coimbatore (South).
Totally, 44 sitting MLAs have been dropped. Karunaas, Thamimun Ansari and U. Thaniyarasu, who were elected on the AIADMK symbol, are no longer with the party. Their constituencies — Thiruvadanai, Nagapattinam and Kangeyam — have been given to the AIADMK’s core nominees. Former Minister Thoppu N.D. Venkatachalam of Perundurai, E. Rathinasabapathy of Aranthangi, and A. Prabhu of Kallakurichi, who were seen as dissidents a few years ago, did not figure in the list.
Three persons who were seen as representatives of Mr. Panneerselvam on the steering committee — P.H. Manoj Pandian, J.C.D. Prabhakar and K. Manickam — are the party’s nominees in Alangulam, Villivakkam and Sholavandan.
Later in the day, the AIADMK announced that four constituencies – Perambur, Egmore, Kilvaithinankuppam and Kumbakonam – had been allotted to Perunthalaivar Makkal Katchi, Tamilaga Makkal Munnetra
Kazhagam,Puratchi Bharatham and the Moovendar Munnetra Kazhagam respectively. All the four parties would contest the election on the AIADMK's symbol of "two leaves."