The DMK has allotted the seat to Congress which fell vacant following the sudden demise of the sitting legislator of the Congress party, Thirumahan Everaa (46).

Edappadi K Palaniswami and O PanneerselvamPTI
news Election Saturday, January 21, 2023 - 11:30

Erode East Assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu which would see a bye-election on February 27 would put to test the strength of alliances formed by political parties. In the latest development, former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (OPS) has announced that he will field his candidate who will take on the candidate of the Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) faction of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). However, OPS also said that his faction was willing to support the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in the bye-election if the national party wanted to contest.

Meanwhile, NDA ally Tamil Manila Congress has declared support for the AIADMK (EPS faction) candidate. On Thursday AIADMK leaders led by party organizing secretary and former minister, D Jayakumar met the Tamil Manila Congress president, GK Vasan, and held closed door discussions for more than 40 minutes.

The DMK has allotted the seat to Congress which fell vacant following the sudden demise of the sitting legislator of the Congress party, Thirumahan Everaa (46). Congress however has not announced its candidate as there is opposition to the candidature of the family members of the deceased MLA.

The father of the late legislator, EVKS Elangovan was a former Union Minister and a former state president of the Tamil Nadu Congress. The family is keen that either Elangovan himself or the brother of the deceased legislator, Sanjay Sampath contest the seat which has been a family bastion. It is to be noted that Elangovan is closely related to the late Dravidian ideologue, EV Ramasamy Periyar or Thanthai Periyar.

A section of the state Congress leaders, including the party state president KS Alagiri, however, favour the candidature of a local leader from Erode. This section argues that while the untimely death of Thirumahan Evera was tragic and sad, the party must consider the candidature of local party leaders who have been the grassroots strength of the Congress. These leaders are in favour of supporting Makkal Rajan, Erode District secretary of the Congress. Makkal Rajan is a grassroots leader.

While Elangovan is a heavyweight leader of the Congress party, the opposite faction is pointing out his loss in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to OP Raveendranath, son of OPS at the Theni Lok Sabha seat. It is to be noted that this was the only seat that the DMK-led alliance of which Congress is part of lost in the state. Of the 39 Lok sabha seats, 38 were won by the DMK-led alliance in the 2019 general elections.

OPS vs EPS

Asked if his decision to have a different candidate could cause confusion among the party members and electorate, as well, OPS replied on January 21, “It is he (EPS) who is creating a confusion. Ask him.” He also added that his party would accept any symbol allotted by the ECI in case the party symbol could not be retained.

“It's only Palaniswami who has been a stumbling block in rejecting a unification [of factions] and also in staking a claim for the two leaves symbol, on which we have complete rights,” OPS told reporters at his Greenways residence here.

On the resulting confusion and inability of the party candidates in obtaining the authorisation forms to contest the bye-election, as witnessed in the civic polls, OPS accused EPS of scuttling the prospects of the party candidates by refusing to sign in the joint declaration. He was in touch with friendly parties including the BJP and would seek their support for his party candidate, he added.

(With agency inputs)

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