Erode (East) bypoll | Congress registers emphatic victory, defeats AIADMK rival by 66,233 votes

E.V.K.S. Elangovan is entering the Assembly after 39 years. DMK president and Chief Minister M.K. Stalin termed the victory an endorsement of the “Dravidian model” of government.

Updated - March 03, 2023 04:43 pm IST

Published - March 02, 2023 11:19 pm IST - ERODE

A DMK party member bursting crackers on Thursday to celebrate the victory of Congress candidate E.V.K.S. Elangovan in the byelection. 

A DMK party member bursting crackers on Thursday to celebrate the victory of Congress candidate E.V.K.S. Elangovan in the byelection.  | Photo Credit: M. GOVARTHAN

The DMK-backed Secular Progressive Alliance candidate, E.V.K.S. Elangovan, of the Congress on Thursday registered a thumping victory in the byelection to the Erode (East) Assembly seat by 66,233 votes against AIADMK candidate K.S. Thennarasu. While Mr. Elangovan secured 1,10,156 votes, Mr. Thennarasu, contesting on the two leaves symbol, polled 43,923 votes at the end of the counting at the Government College of Engineering in Chithode.

Menaka Navaneethan of the Naam Tamilar Katchi secured 10,827 votes and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam candidate S. Anand polled just 1,432 votes. Of the 77 candidates, 75 forfeited their deposits.

The byelection, necessitated by the death of Mr. Elangovan’s son Thirumahan Everaa, was keenly contested amid serious allegations of large-scale bribery of voters. The first byelection since the constitution of the current Assembly in 2021 was seen by the DMK as a performance test before next year’s Lok Sabha election. DMK president and Chief Minister M.K. Stalin termed the victory an endorsement of the “Dravidian model” of government.

AIADMK interim general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami, who hoped to use the byelection as a platform to bounce back after successive electoral defeats, expectedly blamed the ruling party for the humbling defeat of his candidate in what was once a traditional stronghold.

As the counting of votes began at 8 a.m., it was clear that Mr. Elangovan was the winning horse. He established early leads in the first round and maintained it till the end of round 15. By the time the fourth round was completed, the AIADMK candidate realised that he was staring at defeat and left the counting centre. A total of 798 votes were polled for NOTA.

Mr. Elangovan was last elected to the Assembly from the then Sathyamangalam constituency in 1984. After being elected as an MLA, He is entering the Assembly after 39 years. He was elected from the Gobichettipalayam Lok Sabha constituency in 2004 and served as the Union Minister of State for Textiles. He unsuccessfully contested in the Lok Sabha election from Erode and Theni in 2009 and 2019 respectively.

The byelection, held on February 27, registered a turnout of 74.79%.

The first round of the result was declared at 10.30 a.m., while the result of the 15th round was declared at 7.50 p.m. At the end, Mr. Elangovan was declared the winner.

Counting of postal ballots began at 8 a.m. and the votes polled in electronic voting machines began at 8.30 a.m. in the presence of District Election Officer and Collector H. Krishnanunni, General Observer Raj Kumar Yadav, Returning Officer K. Sivakumar, candidates and agents.

Postal ballots being counted at the Government College of Engineering at Chithode in Erode on March 2, 2023 | Video Credit: M. Govarthan

Votes were counted over 15 rounds across 16 tables by more than 100 counting officials. The results were announced by Mr. Sivakumar over the public address system.

Addressing the media at the counting centre, Mr. Elangovan said people supported the DMK government and accepted the SPA. Without naming the AIADMK leaders, he said that they claimed to represent the real AIADMK. “The byelection result shows that people are not ready to accept the AIADMK without Jayalalithaa,” he said.

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