The Election Commission announced bye-polls to four pending Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu. In a statement on Thursday, the EC announced bye-polls to Sulur, Aravakurichi, Thiruparankundram and Ottapidaram Assembly constituencies on May 19. The EC announcement comes weeks after the DMK, the main opposition party in the state, called for the conduct of the pending bye-elections.
According to the poll agency, the EC decided to hold bye-elections to fill the vacancies after "taking into consideration various factors like local festivals, electoral rolls, weather conditions, etc." While a gazette notification will be issued on April 22, the last date for filing nominations will be April 29. Nominations would be scrutinized by April 30 and candidates can withdraw their candidatures by May 2.
Results would be announced on May 23. With this announcement, vacancies to all Tamil Nadu’s 234 seats will be filled post May 23. The EC had earlier announced bye-elections to 18 Assembly constituencies to be held simultaneously along with the Lok Sabha Elections on April 18.
The Aravakurichi and Ottapidaram constituencies have been without representative in the state assembly since September 2017. MLAs V Senthil Balaji and R Kandaraj were disqualified along with 16 of their colleagues under the Anti-Defection law. The MLAs, who were supporting ousted AIADMK Deputy General Secretary, now AMMK leader and RK Nagar MLA TTV Dhinakaran, were disqualified on the grounds that they had “voluntarily given up their party membership”. AIADMK’s Thiruparankundram MLA AK Bose passed away in office in August last year, necessitating a bye-poll in his constituency. Elections to these three seats were not announced along with Lok Sabha and 18 bye-polls as petitions on them were pending in the courts.
The DMK had moved the Supreme Court after the Election Commission announced bye-polls to only 18 out of the 21 vacancies. While the apex court had in March disposed off the petitions stating it could not decide the poll dates, the Election Commission had then informed the SC that it would announce polls within a ‘reasonable time’.
MLA R Kanagaraj of the ruling AIADMK passed away after a cardiac arrest in March this year throwing open the Sulur Assembly seat.
The bye-elections to the 22 seats will seal the fate of the Eddapadi Palaniswami-led government that is presently sitting on a wafer-thin majority. With 113 MLAs excluding the Speaker, the AIADMK needs to win at least five constituencies to stay in power. The majority mark in the TN Assembly with a strength of 235 legislators is 118.