Bye-polls to 18 of 21 legislative assembly constituencies due in Tamil Nadu will take place on Thursday, April 18, 2019. The Election Commission of India made the announcement on Sunday in New Delhi while announcing the dates for the upcoming General Elections. Later, Tamil Nadu’s Chief Electoral Officer, Satyabrata Sahoo clarified in a press conference in Chennai that bye-polls to Ottapidaram, Aravakurichi and Thiruparankundram assembly constituencies would not take place as petitions on the polls are still pending in court.
The polls would take place simultaneously along with Lok Sabha polls. The results too would be announced on the same day on Thursday, May 23. The constituencies that will go to polls on April 18 are Poonamallee (SC), Perambur, Thiruporur, Sholingur, Gudiyattham (SC), Ambur, Hosur, Pappireddippatti, Harur (SC), Nilakkottai (SC), Thiruvarur, Thanjavur, Manamadurai (SC), Andipatti, Periyakulam (SC), Sattur, Paramakudi (SC) and Vilathikulam.
While 18 MLAs were disqualified by the Madras High Court in October last year under the Anti Defection Law for declaring their support to AMMK’s TTV Dhinakaran, MLAs M Karunanidhi (DMK, Thiruvarur) and AK Bose (AIADMK, Thirupparankundram) died in office. Hosur MLA and Minister Balakrishna Reddy was disqualified following his three-year imprisonment in a criminal case.
The state CEO also informed the media that all Superintendents of Police, Commissioners and Collectors across all districts would be instructed accordingly as the EC's Model Code of Conduct would come into force on Sunday. When asked about cash-for-votes, an issue that has frequently cropped up at the time of elections in Tamil Nadu, the CEO said that special arrangements would be undertaken to tackle the problem. “For expenditure-sensitive constituencies, intensive arrangements would be made with higher level officials of Income Tax Department and other departments. Besides the usual course of action, they will be deployed as special observers,” he said.
The bye-polls are crucial for the state as they are likely to decide the fate of the AIADMK’s Edappadi Palaniswami government in Tamil Nadu. The strength of the Tamil Nadu assembly is 234 members. The AIADMK won 134 seats in the 2016 Assembly Elections, and then two more in bye-polls in November the same year. However, following Jayalalithaa’s demise in December 2016, her RK Nagar seat was won by TTV Dhinakaran, who contested as an Independent MLA. With the death of Thiruparankundram MLA, AK Bose in August and the conviction of Hosur MLA, Balakrishna Reddy, the two seats fell vacant. Riding on a wafer thin majority, the AIADMK would attempt to shore up its strength and gauge the anti-incumbency factor as it hopes to complete its term till 2021.