The Election Commission has announced that bye-polls in Nanguneri and Vikravandi constituencies in Tamil Nadu will be conducted on October 21. Party chief MK Stalin announced that while DMK will contest from the Vikravandi constituency, the Congress will contest from Nanguneri.
With this announcement, the Model Code of Conduct has come into effect in both constituencies.
The bye-poll in Nanguneri in Tirunelveli district had to be announced because the sitting MLA, H Vasanthakumar of the Congress had resigned after he was elected as the MP from Kanyakumari constituency. The Vikravandi assembly seat in Villupuram district meanwhile fell vacant after DMK MLA K Rathamani passed away in June. Nominations for the seats begin on September 23 and the last day for filing nominations is September 30. While scrutiny of nomination will happen on October 1, the counting will be on October 24.
Shortly after the Election Commission's announcement, the DMK revealed its strategy for the bye-polls, with DMK contesting from the Vikravandi constituency and Congress from Nanguneri. While there were earlier reports of disagreement over seat sharing between the two parties, Stalin's announcement has however put rest any murmurs of a rift between the allies.
Earlier this month, while addressing cadre in Nanguneri, Tamil Nadu Congress President KS Alagiri had even said, "Why can't the Congress contest alone in the elections? Why are we just being an opposition party in the state for the last 50 years? Why can't the Congress contest alone when we have a strong base in the southern Tamil Nadu? We have a strong presence in Kanyakumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts."
In the recent elections held in the state, the ruling AIADMK had won nine assembly seats while the DMK won 13. This time around, there could be a change in alliances ahead of the polls. Sources in the AIADMK tell TNM that while Vikravandi could be a definite win for the party, Nanguneri will be challenging.
"We are not sure if the alliance with BJP will continue for these two seats, but it definitely will with PMK. Vikravandi is a stronghold for them and can help us win," the source said. While DMK had won the previous assembly poll in Vikravandi, the AIADMK and PMK together had polled over 30,000 votes more in 2016. "Nanguneri however will prove to be an issue because of the large Christian population. They may resist if we tie up with the BJP," he adds.