Vaithilingam heading towards an impressive victory in Puducherry

With counting still on, the Congress candidate has already opened up a sizeable lead over his AINRC rival Narayanasamy

Updated - May 24, 2019 01:00 pm IST

Published - May 24, 2019 12:19 am IST - PUDUCHERRY

Home stretch:  Congress candidate from Puducherry V. Vaithilingam greets mediapersons at a counting centre; and right, counting of votes in progress at the Motilal Nehru Government Polytechnic College in Puducherry.

Home stretch: Congress candidate from Puducherry V. Vaithilingam greets mediapersons at a counting centre; and right, counting of votes in progress at the Motilal Nehru Government Polytechnic College in Puducherry.

Congress candidate from the Puducherry Lok Sabha constituency, V. Vaithilingam, is well on course to register an impressive win over his rival K. Narayanasamy of the All India N. R. Congress (AINRC).

With only three more rounds of votes remaining to be counted, Mr. Vaithilingam had secured 3,69,208 votes against 2,02,519 bagged by Mr. Narayanasamy. That puts Mr. Vaithilingam ahead of the AINRC candidate by a whopping 1,66,689 votes.

In third position is Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) candidate M.A.S. Subramanian, with 26,727 votes.

The counting is expected to go on late into the night, said an official with the Election Department.

The Congress candidate established a clear lead over his rival right from the start of counting of postal ballots. He was ahead even in constituencies held by the AINRC and its alliance partner All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The Puducherry Lok Sabha seat was won by AINRC member R. Radhakrishnan in 2014 polls by a margin of 60,854 votes.

With the victory of Mr. Vaithilingam being imminent, the Union Territory is set to witness another bypoll for the Kamaraj Nagar constituency. The Assembly segment was currently represented by Mr. Vaithilingam. He had resigned from the post of Speaker of the Legislative Assembly immediately on his nomination as Congress Lok Sabha candidate.

The Congress, which may soon have to begin the search for the right candidate for the Kamaraj Nagar byelection, will also have to take up the challenging task of selecting a nominee for the Speaker.

Contenders fall

As the counting advanced through the day, it became increasingly evident that contenders such as the Makkal Needhi Maiam of actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan and the TTV-Dhinakaran-led Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) had failed to make any impact.

The MNM, in fielding veteran politician M.A.S. Subramanian, son of DMK stalwart M.A. Shanmugam and a three-time MLA, appeared intent on carving out a political space, independent of the Congress and the AINRC. However, the MNM appears to have failed to gain any momentum even after Mr. Haasan hit the campaign trail here. The AMMK, which fielded a young face in N. Tamilmarane, secretary of the youth wing for Puducherry, fared worse, with a tally of just over 3,000 votes as counting entered the final phase.

(With additional reporting by M. Dinesh Varma)

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