Chennai: TTV Dhinakaran has declared himself as the “true political heir” of the late J. Jayalalithaa after he was declared the winner of RK Nagar assembly seat in Chennai city. The counting of votes was held on Sunday and Dhinakaran was ahead of his rivals throughout the counting process.
Thanking voters, the sidelined AIADMK leader has vowed to bring down the EPS-OPS government in the state “within three months”. The bypoll was primarily a contest between Dhinakaran and the merged faction of chief minister E. Palaniswami and deputy CM O. Panneerselvam, with the result deciding the battle for Jayalalithaa’s legacy.
While Dhinakaran contested as an Independent candidate, the EPS-OPS faction had fielded Madhusudhanan. The DMK, too, tried to make it a triangular contest, fielding N. Maruthu Ganesh. The bypoll was first scheduled to be held in April this year, but was cancelled due to complaints of large-scale voter bribery. This round of voting was also not devoid of controversy. A Dhinakaran loyalist released a video on the eve of the by-election purportedly showing Jayalalithaa in a hospital few days before her death.
Losing the high-profile RK Nagar assembly constituency, would be considered a setback for the E Palaniswami-led AIADMK and will send a message that him and his deputy O Panneerselvam might not be in complete control after the split from the Sasikala-Dhinakaran camp. The AIADMK have fielded senior leader E Madhusudanan, who has held the seat before. A loss at RK Nagar would also be a jolt for the DMK, whose working president MK Stalin had campaigned aggressively ahead of polling day.
Counting to by-elections is also being held in three other states. While the BJP is leading in Sikandra (Uttar Pradesh) and Pakke-Kasang (Arunachal Pradesh), it has won in Likabali (Arunachal). The Trinamool Congress is leading in Sabang (West Bengal).