Erode East may see yet another contest with high stakes

Since 1957, 101 Assembly by-elections were held in the State

Published - January 07, 2023 12:37 am IST - CHENNAI

The Erode (East) Assembly constituency, which fell vacant after the recent death of E.V.R. Thirumagan of the Congress, will witness the 102nd Assembly by-election in the State since 1957.

Of the 101 Assembly byelections, the Opposition registered victories on 29 occasions. These included the victories of two independents — S. Sundara Bharathi in Aruppukottai in November 1959 and T.T.V. Dhinakaran in R.K. Nagar in December 2017. In the rest, the winners were from the ruling party or its ally.

The Opposition’s tally would not have gone up this much but for the DMK’s success in 13 constituencies in 2019. A perusal of the data of the results of the byelections over the years reveals that between 1957 (the year after which the present limits of the State were mostly drawn) and 1980, the Opposition won in seven constituencies out of 25 seats. During 1981-2015, its success was in eight out of 50 seats and from 2016 to 2019, its tally was 14 out of 26.

It has become a tradition among the main players to treat every byelection as a matter of prestige, leading to an intense contest. This trend could be seen even in the late 1960s. When Perundurai went to the byelection in May 1969, a few months after M. Karunanidhi became the Chief Minister following the death of DMK founder C.N. Annadurai, the Samyuktha Socialist Party (SSP), an ally of the ruling party, and the Congress were the main participants. While the former’s campaign was virtually taken over by the then Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi, and his colleagues, the latter’s election work was naturally spearheaded by K. Kamaraj and C. Subramaniam, who was the then heading the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee and hailed from the western region.

The practice acquired greater vigour over the years with the byelections providing an opportunity for the demonstration of “Thirumangalam formula”, symbolising the power of money factor. This was notwithstanding the Election Commission tightening its norms for the conduct of the parties.

As for Erode East, it was the Congress which won there in the 2021 Assembly election, defeating the Tamil Maanila Congress (Moopanar) by a margin of about 8,900 votes. At that time, the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) and the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), which finished third and fourth, polled 11,629 votes and 10,005 votes respectively.

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