The battle in RK Nagar ahead of the bye-polls on April 12 has reached a fever pitch. With a total of 62 candidates in the fray, the decibel levels in this otherwise quiet constituency have attracted the attention of the entire state.
While the two factions of the AIADMK battling for Jayalalithaa's legacy have garnered most of the media's attention, they’re neither the only nor the popular contenders in the constituency.
Apart from TTV Dhinakaran and E Madhusudhanan, there are several other candidates who are confident that they will garner support. Jayalalithaa's niece Deepa has caught the fancy of a certain section of the constituency and Marudhu Ganesh, who is contesting under the DMK banner is confident that he won't be left too far behind in this race.
Here is a comprehensive list of candidates that you should look out for in this upcoming poll:
Candidate: TTV Dhinakaran
Party name: AIADMK Amma
Total assets: Rs 10 crore
While TTV Dhinakaran's appointment as the AIADMK's Deputy general secretary raised eyebrows, it was his selection as the party's candidate for the RK Nagar bye-polls that made his control over the faction led by Sasikala clear. When the announcement was made, several members of the media asked Dhinakaran if this was another step towards the CM's post. He, however, dismissed the speculation, claiming that Edappadi Palaniswami will remain Chief Minister.
The 54-year-old nephew of VK Sasikala represented the Periyakulam Lok Sabha constituency in 1999. He was later a Rajya Sabha member between 2004 and 2010. But in 2006, he was expelled from the AIADMK along with his relatives, after the AIADMK lost the Assembly elections. But VK Sasikala re-inducted him into the party after she took over the reins.
The rift within the AIADMK following Sasikala's appointment as general secretary, however, made the Election Commission freeze the two leaves symbol and prevent both factions from contesting under the AIADMK Banner. The RK Nagar bye-poll is crucial for the Sasikala faction as it is their only chance to prove that they have the people's support.
According to The Hindu, the Enforcement Directorate has imposed a ₹28 crore fine on Dhinakaran for money laundering. He is also facing two 20-year-old FERA cases for acquiring foreign exchange from unauthorised dealers.
Candidate: E Madhusudhanan
Symbol: Electric Pole
Party name: AIADMK Puratchi Thalaivi Amma
Total assets: Rs 5 crore
Before Jayalalithaa's death, E Madhusudhanan was among the most prominent leaders in the AIADMK. He was the presidium chairman of the party, and considered to be a leader trusted by former AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa herself. He has contested in the RK Nagar constituency four times and represented them between 1991 and 1996.
Following VK Sasikala's elevation, Madhusudhanan switched his loyalties to the O Panneerselvam camp. He was removed as presidium chairman by Sasikala shortly after he made his allegiance clear.
But he is not new to taking sides in times of a power struggle. When AIADMK split into Jaya and Janaki factions in 1989, Madhusudhanan had stood by J Jayalalithaa.
An AIADMK veteran and an MGR loyalist, Madhusudhanan was convicted and later acquitted in a free dhoti-saree scam during his term as Handloom Minister. He also has 19 criminal cases pending against him, which he claims were politically motivated.
Image: Screenshot/ Dinakaran
Candidate: N Maruthu Ganesh
Symbol: Rising Sun
Party name: DMK
Total assets: Rs 19 lakh
The DMK's decision to field Maruthu Ganesh, the party's area secretary of RK Nagar (East) unit, came as a surprise to both its members and the opposition.
According to reports, Marudhu Ganesh hails from a middle class background. His mother Parvathi Narayanasamy, was a councillor between 1996 and 2001 when DMK working president MK Stalin was the Mayor of the Chennai Corporation.
Ganesh is a local journalist and a practising lawyer. Though his family is from Madurai, Ganesh was reportedly born and brought up in Chennai and graduated from the Sir Theagaraya College in New Washermenpet. He then studied Law at the Venkateswara Law College in Tirupati.
This is the first time he will be contesting in an election. With heavyweights standing in the AIADMK factions, the road ahead for Ganesh will likely be challenging, but analysts believe that he may benefit from the split in AIADMK votes.
Candidate: Deepa Jayakumar
Party name: Independent
Total assets: Rs 3 crore
There seems to be increasing support for Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar in the RK Nagar constituency. While she is standing as an independent candidate, she launched a forum called ‘MGR Amma Deepa Peravai’ on February 24, 2017.
Deepa has claimed to be the political heir of Jayalalithaa, and has gained some popularity on the ground. There were rumours that she might join the Panneerselvam faction, but Deepa decided to go it alone.
Candidate: Gangai Amaran
Party name: BJP
Total assets: Rs 24 lakh
Gangai Amaran joined the BJP in January 2014 along with actor-choreographer Gayathri Raghuram. He hails from a family which is associated with the Communist Party of India. He is the brother of composer Ilaiyaraaja and was earlier a member of the DMK.
Gangai Amaran had voiced his opposition to Sasikala in February, following former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam's rebellion. He had alleged that she forced him to sell his 22-acres land in 1994.
Image: Screenshot/ News7
Candidate: P Mathivanan
Party name: DMDK
Total assets: Rs 70 lakh
P Mathivanan’s is the candidate for DMDK in the RK Nagar ebye-lections. He is DMDK’s North Chennai District Secretary, and stood against DMK leader MK Stalin in the 2016 Assembly elections from Kolathur.
Symbol: Two candles
Party name: Naam Thamizhar Katchi
Total assets: Rs 14 crore
Kalaikottudhayam is the owner of Thamizhan TV and has produced several movies in the past. He is the candidate for P Seeman’s party Naam Thamizhar Katchi. He is contesting under the “Two candles” symbol.
Candidate: R Loganathan
Symbol: Hammer, sickle and star
Party name: CPI(M)
Total assets: Rs 11 lakh
CPI(M) leader G Ramakrishnan had ‘unilaterally’ announced R Loganthan as the candidate for the party - and also the People's Welfare Front. Loganathan is the general secretary of the Chennai-Chengalpet Fishermen Association and also member of the party’s North Chennai district Executive Committee. The Hindu reported that the party is banking on the sizeable working class population in RK Nagar.
However, both CPI and VCK - the alliance partners of CPI(M) in PWF - had refused to support his candidature in the elections. CPI leader R Mutharasan had said that both CPI and VCK have decided not to contest the RK Nagar elections, according to a report.
Source : Assets/ Arappor Iyakkam