Focus of TN politics shifts to by-poll in 4 Assembly constituencies

Chennai: So, the battle continues after a brief break. Only a week ago, political leaders in the State completed their literally heated campaign for elections to 38 Lok Sabha and 18 Assembly constituencies.

They are now gearing up to start their canvassing again, with by-polls in four Assembly segments –  Thirupparankundram, Sulur, Aravakurichi and Ottapidaram – slated to be held 19 May.

The main Opposition DMK and fledgling AMMK have already named their candidates for the four seats, while the ruling AIADMK and Kamal Haasan’s MNM are likely to do it anytime.

Since it is expected that the scrutiny will be more this time, thanks to wide-ranging allegations of money flow in Tamilnadu and with the Election Commission now having the task of managing just four constituencies, parties are devising fresh strategies to woo voters.

“We have new techniques to attract people and make them vote for us. But, we can’t reveal them right now. We even know what our rivals are going to do,” says a member of a political party.

An office-bearer of its opponent organisation says, “They have not learnt their lessons even after the recent crackdown against them. Our sleeper-cells in their outfit will inform their activities to us and we will in turn alert the officials.”

A functionary of another party says, “We are not going to indulge in money distribution. We are pretty sure about winning the by-polls since people’s support is with us. We will adopt other strategies to attract voters.”

From next week, a high-voltage campaign is expected to take place in these four places, with Chief Minister and AIADMK joint coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami, Deputy CM and the party’s coordinator O Panneerselvam, DMK president M K Stalin, AMMK general secretary T T V Dhinakaran and MNM founder Kamal Haasan getting ready to meet the people and seek votes.

Tamilnadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo says, “We will maintain strict vigil in the four constituencies and flying squads will be at work. Vulnerable and critical polling booths will be listed out and additional security will be provided. All steps will be taken to ensure free and fair elections.”

M Bhaskar Sai