Only one out of 44 Assembly byelections since 2006 saw a margin of victory exceeding one lakh votes

Updated - February 18, 2023 12:32 am IST

Published - February 17, 2023 12:46 am IST - CHENNAI

Only one out of the 44 Assembly byelections since 2006 saw the winner recording a margin of over one lakh votes.

This was witnessed in the Dr. R.K. Nagar byelection in June 2015, when the then Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, returned to the Assembly. The DMK was among the parties that did not contest in the byelection. It was left to the CPI to take on Jayalalithaa.

The margin of over one lakh votes has assumed significance as the ruling DMK has been maintaining that the candidate of its ally, E.V.K.S. Elangovan, will bring it off in the Erode (East) byelection scheduled for February 27.

A perusal of the margins of victory in the 44 byelections reveals that in the top five instances, four byelections were one-off affairs, as in the case of Erode (East). The exception was Thondamuthur, which went to the byelection along with four other constituencies in August 2009.

On the contrary, all the bottom five instances were part of the byelections that took place in 22 constituencies in April-May 2019. The Lok Sabha election, too, was held then.

G. Palanithurai, a veteran academic, says the trend of a party being able to forecast the margin of victory shows how strong its micro-management is. “Naturally, the ruling party has the advantage of carrying out pucca micro-management,” he points out.

Lauding the DMK for the manner in which it has been campaigning for his colleague, Congress spokesperson A. Gopanna says senior Ministers and other functionaries of the ruling party are making concerted and systematic efforts to cover each and every voter. “Their style is individual-centric,” he quips, adding that Mr. Elangovan will win by an overwhelming margin.

He recalls that even though the Congress bagged the seat with a margin of 8,904 votes in the 2021 Assembly election, the DMK’s nominee got about 36,500 more votes in this Assembly segment than the AIADMK candidate during the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Erode (East) forms part of the Erode Lok Sabha constituency. In the local bodies elections held last year, the DMK-led front bagged most of the wards falling under the Assembly constituency.

However, AIADMK Amma Peravai secretary and former Minister R.B. Udhayakumar accuses the ruling party of indulging in irregularities. “Voters in Erode (East) are fed up with the State government over a host of issues, such as the increase in property tax and power tariff. If the byelection is held in a free and fair manner, our victory is certain,” he said.

But, Thangam Thennarasu, Minister for Industries and one of the key figures of the ruling party, denies the charge that his party has been indulging in the misuse of power. “We are blamed for preventing the AIADMK from canvassing for votes among people. It is left to each party to devise its own ways of reaching out to the voters. We do not stop anyone,” he says, adding that his party talks about the margin as it is confident of achieving the target.

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