TAMIL NADU

Congress, BJP readying to contest in Sattankulam

Chennai Dec. 4 . The Congress and the BJP are preparing to contest the byelection for the Sattankulam Assembly seat, which fell vacant following the recent death of Mani Nadar.

While the State Congress working president, E.V.K.S. Elangovan, today claimed that his party would hold discussions with the Left and Dalit parties on contesting the seat, the State BJP's zonal committee, which met in the city yesterday demanded that the party throw its hat into the ring once again.

In the May 2001 Assembly election, the Tamil Maanila Congres, which has since merged with the Congress, and the BJP were locked in a fierce battle in Sattankulam. The TMC's Mani Nadar polled 5,766 votes more than the BJP's Yuva Morcha activist, Rajakannan.

However, both the national parties will now have to face the polls without the support of their regional allies. While the Congress has snapped ties with the AIADMK, the DMK has burnt bridges with the State unit of the BJP.

At the State BJP's zonal committee meeting, held to review the on-going membership drive, the functionaries were insistent that Mr. Rajakannan be fielded in Sattankulam again.

However, the two national parties are yet to take a final decision on contesting the seat.

In the byelections in three constituencies held in May this year, the BJP wished to contest the Vaniyambadi seat but finally pulled out, apparently in favour of the AIADMK, which fielded a Hindu candidate. It remains to be seen whether the BJP will repeat its gesture to the ruling party, which has come up with an array measures, including the anti-conversion law and the Annadhanam scheme in big shrines, which have been wholeheartedly welcomed by the BJP.

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