Last phase of LS elections, by-poll in 4 TN Assembly seats Sunday

Chennai: The marathon polling for Lok Sabha elections-2019, happening for more than a month, is coming to an end tomorrow, as voters in 59 constituencies, spread over seven States and one Union Territory, will exercise their franchise during the last phase.

The seventh and final phase will cover 13 seats in Uttar Pradesh; all 13 in Punjab; nine in West Bengal; eight each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh; all four constituencies in Himachal Pradesh; three in Jharkhand and the lone seat of Chandigarh. Counting of votes will take place 23 May.

IN TAMILNADU

In Tamilnadu, by-election will be conducted tomorrow to four Assembly seats. A total of 137 candidates, six of them women, are in the fray for the by-polls to be held for Sulur (22 candidates), Aravakurichi (63), Thiruparankundram (37) and Ottapidaram (15) seats.

In the State, the main contest is between the ruling AIADMK and the principal Opposition DMK, despite the presence of the AMMK, led by T T V Dhinakaran and Makkal Needhi Maiam of actor-politician Kamal Haasan.

During the campaign that witnessed trading of charges against each other by the two Dravidian majors, Kamal stirred a hornet’s nest towards the fag-end with his Hindu terror remark that created a furore among parties, especially the BJP and AIADMK.

In all, there were 22 vacant Assembly seats out of which by-polls for 18 seats were held along with Lok Sabha polls 18 April.

Polling for the remaining four seats is being held Sunday as part of the seventh and final phase of Lok Sabha polls and counting will be taken up 23 May.

Ahead of polling, the Election Commission has come up with a string of strict rules and regulations, including that all political functionaries, party workers, etc., brought from outside, should leave the constituency.

The by-poll to 22 Assembly seats is more crucial for the stability of the AIADMK government, and the party has to  win a good number of seats to ensure that it enjoyed a simple majority in the 234-member House.

The DMK, which has a combined strength of 97 MLAs in the House (DMK-88, Congress-8 and IUML-1), has been repeatedly charging that the State government has sacrificed Tamilnadu’s interests, a charge vehemently denied by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam.

Considering that the DMK has lost three successive elections before this (2011, 2016 Assembly polls, 2014 LS polls), this election is crucial for the party.

NT Bureau