Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, bypoll winners often turn Assembly poll favourites

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Trend applies to byelections held in the last leg of Assembly’s term; it assumes relevance in light of Nanguneri, Vikravandi polls

The Assembly constituencies in the State which witness byelections in the last leg of the term of the House usually favour the winning party or candidate in the subsequent Assembly election as well.

Such a voting pattern was evident in 14 out of 20 Assembly constituencies where byelections were held hardly 18 months prior to a scheduled Assembly election since the 1950s, according to a study. Only the bypolls that were held up to 18 months prior to the end of the term of a given Assembly have been considered for the purpose of the study.

The findings assume relevance as the Nanguneri and Vikravandi bypolls are slated for October 21 while the next Assembly election is due in April-May 2021. Such byelections provided an indication about the direction in which the votes were likely to go in the subsequent Assembly polls. On many occasions, this trend was in contrast to what the rest of the State had experienced. For example, both in the February 2000 bypoll and the subsequent Assembly election in May 2001, the now-defunct Tiruchi II Assembly constituency voted in favour of the DMK, though the party lost heavily elsewhere. A similar pattern was seen in the case of Gummidipoondi, which preferred the AIADMK over the DMK in both the bypoll in May 2005 and the Assembly election in May 2006. But the AIADMK bowed out of office after the 2006 polls, which it lost. Against this backdrop, the stakes are high for the principal parties, which are not able to avoid byelections even with just one-and-a-half years to go for the end of the term of the Assembly, says T.A. Elumalai of the AMMK, one among 18 legislators who were disqualified in September 2017.

As soon as the Election Commission announces the poll schedule, the parties set the process in motion for choosing their nominees. Already, aspirants would have begun lobbying senior leaders to get the party ticket, in anticipation of the Commission’s announcement. Under such circumstances, the chances of reducing the scope for holding byelections are remote, says the former legislator, who lost the byelection to the Poonamallee seat in April. Echoing his view, a functionary of the DMK says parliamentarians could consider introducing restrictions on holding byelections, except in cases where vacancies were caused by the death of sitting legislators. Citing the case of Nanguneri, where a bypoll has been necessitated by the resignation of H. Vasanthakumar following his election to the Lok Sabha, M.G. Devasahayam, who has been running a campaign for ethical voting, says incumbent MLAs should not be allowed to contest for any other elected office. “If he or she wants to contest, let him or her resign as an MLA first,” he says.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 12:44:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/bypoll-winners-often-turn-assembly-poll-favourites/article29612711.ece

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