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Why the monsoon is a cover to postpone by-polls in Tamil Nadu

Political observers note that the elections to the two constituencies will not be a cakewalk for the AIADMK.

 |  3-minute read |   11-10-2018
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For a state that prided itself in its vibrant democracy and active governance, the events that have taken place since the demise of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa paint a poor picture.

Since the last two years, the people of Tamil Nadu have not had an elected local body representative, or mayor, to air their civic grievances. Eighteen constituencies in the state lack legislative representatives following their disqualification a year ago.

elections-690_101018064814.jpgThe Election Commission cited monsoons and a court case as the reason for deferring the Tamil Nadu by-polls. (Source: PTI)

The state functions on autopilot dictated by its political constraints. If this was not enough, the latest reason to postpone the by-polls comes a cropper in the political theatre that is unfolding south of the Vindhyas.

On October 6, the Election Commission announced the dates for the Assembly elections in five states. However, the commission decided not to announce dates for the highly anticipated by-polls to Thiruparankundram and Thiruvarur necessitated by the passing away of its legislators AK Bose and M Karunanidhi, respectively.

The commission cited monsoons and a court case as the reason for deferring the polls. The EC postponed the announcement based on a request from Tamil Nadu chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan.

In her letter to the commission, she mentioned the meteorological department's forecast of an ‘above normal’ rainfall across Tamil Nadu and Thiruvarur in particular. "As the state machinery would be fully mobilised to handle these contingencies, it would be advisable not to notify by-elections during this period,” the letter read.

Even as the state is awaiting the verdict in the case relating to the disqualification of 18 MLAs owing allegiance to TTV Dinakaran, Opposition parties have questioned the motive behind the EC's decision and stirred up a new political storm in the state.

MK Stalin flayed the ruling AIADMK government saying the party lacks confidence and fears it will be routed in the polls. He alleged that the by-polls have been postponed as the ground situation in the two constituencies is against the AIADMK.

stalin-690_101018064907.jpgMK Stalin has slammed the AIADMK for delaying byelections. (Source: PTI)

"The AIADMK stands exposed in this matter. Chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan is acting as a propaganda secretary of the party instead of discharging her duties,” he said.

Opposition parties say the reason cited by the chief secretary does not hold water as by-polls have been conducted in the past during monsoon. Case in point is the RK Nagar by-polls in December 2017, byelections in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur during November 2016.

Is monsoon the only reason for deferment of polls?

Many don’t think so.

Political observers note that the elections to the two constituencies will not be a cakewalk for the ruling party in the wake of a looming power crisis in the state.

"The AIADMK is likely to lose its deposit in both these constituencies. TTV Dinakaran will win Thiruparankundram and the DMK will win Thiruvarur if elections are held today. Citing monsoon as a reason to postpone the polls is ridiculous,” said RK Radhakrishnan, a senior journalist.

Known for its classical arts, Thiruvarur constituency in the heart of the Cauvery delta is a DMK stronghold. When DMK chief M Karunanidhi was a legislator, he nurtured the constituency well. The DMK would try to replicate the magic of its chieftain in the polls. However, the party would face difficulty if rebel leader MK Alagiri decides to throw his hat in the ring. 

Home to the largest jasmine farm, the Thiruparankundram constituency in Madurai district would be a tough nut to crack for the DMK. Predominantly an AIADMK bastion, Thiruparankundram has a large chunk of thevar votes who swear loyalty to the party.

Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam leader and RK Nagar MLA TTV Dinakaran have been campaigning extensively in the constituency holding public meetings and enrolling members to the party. A defeat in Thiruparangundram would propel the RK Nagar MLA to retrieve the AIADMK from OPS EPS leadership. 

The elections to Thiruparangundram have been postponed citing a pending court case in Madras High Court. DMK candidate P.Saravanan challenged the validity of the nomination of AIADMK MLA late AK Bose.

Also read: 2019 Lok Sabha polls: What the BJP and Congress can learn from opinion poll projections

Writer

Lokpria Vasudevan Lokpria Vasudevan @lokpria

Principal Correspondent with India Today TV.

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