Representational image. | Image Courtesy: The Hindu
The byelections for four Assembly constituencies and repolling at 13 booths spread across five Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu was concluded on May 19.
The voters from Aravakurichi, Sulur, Ottapidaram and Thiruparamkuntram exercised their franchise in the last phase of the general elections.
The repolling was ordered following reports by the observers and returning officers citing irregularities and mistakes. However, the opposition parties had alleged that the Election Commission did not consider the demands for repolling at places where widespread violence was reported.
The byelections are crucial to the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), as the party has been affected severely by defections and splits after the demise of late Chief Minister J Jayalalitha. There is a direct fight between AIADMK and opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in all the constituencies.
The candidates of AIADMK splinter group Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) led by TTV Dhinakaran, Makkal Nethi Maiam led by actor Kamal Haasan and Naam Tamizhar Katchi were also in the fray.
Earlier in the fourth phase of elections, 38 of the total 39 Lok Sabha constituencies, along with 18 Assembly constituencies, had voted. The election to Vellore Lok Sabha constituency was deferred by the Election Commission citing large distribution of cash to the voters.
Aravakurichi constituency witnessed a high turnout of 84.28%, while Sulur, Ottapidaram and Thiruparamkuntram registered 79.21%, 72.61% and 74.17% respectively. Incidentally, in the 2016 Assembly elections, the voting in Aravakurichi constituency was postponed due to reports of cash distribution to the voters. The then AIADMK candidate Senthil Balaji is now contesting the election as the DMK candidate.
The counting on May 23 will not only determine the fate of the incumbent Union government, but also the AIADMK-led state government. The AIADMK needs to win at least eight seats to retain power, given the status of certain legislators willing to shift loyalties to the AMMK camp. The DMK with 88 legislators needs to win all at least 21 seats to gain simple majority together with the Congress (8) and Indian Union Muslim League (1).