Voting in the bye-elections for four Tamil Nadu Assembly constituencies -- Aravakuruchi, Sulur, Thiruparankundram and Ottapidaram -- began on Sunday morning. Repolling also began in the 13 booths in Erode, Dharmapuri, Tiruvallur and Cuddalore Lok Sabha constituencies.
Voters in the four Assembly constituencies will decide the electoral fate of 137 candidates who are in the fray. However, the main contest will be between the ruling AIADMK, principal opposition party DMK, and an Independent legislator TTV Dhinakaranâ€™s AMMK party. Actor-politician Kamal Haasan's party Makkal Needhi Maiamâ€™s (MNM) candidates are also contesting.
According to the Election Commission, about 16,000 police personnel will be deployed in the four Assembly seats for security purposes. According to reports, 3,614 police personnel have been deployed for security at Thiruparankundram, 3,000 have been posted in Ottapidaram, 2,342 in Aruvakurichi and 3,400 in Sulur. Polling booths designated as 'sensitive' have been given extra police and paramiltitary protection.
Aruvakuruchi has 2.05 lakh voters, Ottapidaram has 2.33 lakh, Thiruparankundram has 3.04 lakh voters and and Sulur has 2.95 lakh.
Bye-elections for 18 Assembly constituencies were held on April 18 along with the Lok Sabha polls in the state. The results of the bye-polls for 22 assembly constituencies are crucial for the ruling AIADMK, opposition DMK and AMMK parties. According to analysts, the AIADMK may not find it difficult to win eight seats out of the 22 to continue to stay in power.
In the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly, the ruling AIADMK has 113 members (including the Speaker), the DMK has 88, the Congress has 8, the IUML 1, and one Independent.
To attain a simple majority, the AIADMK has to win just five seats in the by-elections. In order to be safe against switching of camps by some lawmakers, the AIADMK has to win seven or eight seats.
Interestingly, three AIADMK legislators were issued show-cause notices by Speaker P.Dhanapal as the ruling party felt that they were moving towards Dhinakaran.
However, the Supreme Court has stayed the disqualification proceedings against the three lawmakers.
On the other hand, the DMK (88 members) has to win all 22 seats to take the tally along with its allies -- Congress (eight members) and IUML (one member) -- to 119, just one number over the simple majority.
(With inputs from IANS)