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Ready to face bypolls in Tamil Nadu: Dhinakaran camp

AIADMK rebel leader Dhinakaran has decided to face the electorate rather than fight a legal battle.

tamil nadu Updated: Oct 31, 2018 23:15 IST
MC Rajan
MC Rajan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Tamil Nadu,bypoll,Dhinakaran
Rebel leader and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) general secretary TTV Dhinakaran said that 18 MLAs loyal to him will not challenge their disqualification in Supreme Court and asserted the party’s readiness to face bypolls.(PTI/File Photo)

Rebel leader and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) general secretary TTV Dhinakaran announced on Wednesday that 18 MLAs loyal to him will not challenge their disqualification in the Supreme Court and asserted the party’s readiness to face bypolls.

“Our 18 MLAs will not move the Supreme Court to appeal against the High Court verdict, upholding the disqualification by the Speaker. We are fully prepared to contest all the seats in the by-poll and confident of emerging victorious in all of them,” he said in Madurai.

This comes a day after the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) announced election committees headed by ministers and senior functionaries for each of the constituencies awaiting bypolls. The 20 seats are spread across the state.

Till recently, the AMMK appeared to be in two minds about fighting fresh elections. One of the disqualified MLA and Dhinakaran’s lieutenant, Thanga Tamilselvan, had said they would file an appeal in the top court. Yet, he had also made it clear that the party was not averse to contesting the elections, as and when they are held.

But now, in what appears to be a calculated political gamble, Dhinakaran, nephew of ousted AIADMK chief VK Sasikala, has decided to face the electorate rather than fight a long-drawn legal battle. Last week, the Madras high court had upheld the disqualification of the 18 MLAs by Speaker Dhanapal during a trust vote in September 2017 that the AIADMK government ultimately won. With 20 assembly seats going to the polls , the exercise is being likened to a mini mid-term poll. Other than the 18 seats, the election commission also had to hold byelections to seats vacated by the deaths of former chief minister Karunanidhi and AIADMK legislator AK Bose.

From the principal opposition DMK and the Congress to the Bharatiya Janata Party, every other mainstream political party has demanded that elections be conducted.

DMK president MK Stalin has urged the Election Commission to hold the bypoll without any delay. The AIADMK is hoping Dhinakaran’s loyalists will return to the party fold. “They should kneel before the memorial of Jayalalithaa and repent for siding with Dhinakaran,” the party mouthpiece “Namathu Amma” has said.

Experts say Dhinakaran senses an opportunity to upstage his bitter rivals, chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami and deputy CM O Panneerselvam, who hold a narrow majority of 109 (apart from the Speaker) in the Tamil Nadu assembly of 234 seats. Following the disqualification of the 18 legislators and the demise of two members, the strength of the House has come down from 234 to 214 and, as such, only 108 is required for a majority.

“This is a good strategy by Dhinakaran. By opting for the elections, he has proved that he is still a serious player...,” said Ramu Manivannan, a professor with the department of political science at Madras University.

First Published: Oct 31, 2018 23:15 IST