Following Madras High Courtâ€™s order to conduct the RK Nagar bye-elections before December 31, the Election Commission announced on Friday that it will be conducting the polling on December 21 and the final counting will take place on December 24.
The announcement comes days after the Madras High Court ordered that the bye-poll must be conducted by the end of the year.It also comes a day after the Election Commission recognised the ruling faction of Edappadi Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam as the AIADMK and allotted them the two leaves symbol.
The last date of nomination for the elections are December 4 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is December 7. The Election Commission stated that the Model Code of Conduct will come into effect in the district with immediate effect.
The RK Nagar constituency had fallen vacant after the death of the former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016. Initially, the bye-election to the constituency was scheduled to take place on April 12 but was cancelled by the Election Commission on April 9, over allegations of corruption and bribery of voters. In fact, days before the polls were scheduled, the Income Tax department had raided the state Health Minister, Vijayabaskar, and documents seized during the raid had indicated that crores of rupees had been set aside for distributing to voters in the constituency.
In June, the Election Commission had informed the central government that the situation was not conducive to carrying out free and fair elections and had asked that the deadline for the bye-election be postponed further.
A petition was then filed by a DMK member asking to remove 44,999 bogus voters before conducting the polls. Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar while hearing the petition on November 21 said that the order was not required as the Election Commission had already removed 45,819 voters from the electoral role, and ordered the EC to conduct elections before December 31, reported The Business Line.
With the announcement of the bye-poll, the next question is who will be the candidate from the different parties. Back in April, TTV Dhinakaran and Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami were in the same team, and Dhinakaran was the candidate for the AIADMK (Amma). The then-OPS faction had named veteran leader Madhusudhanan to fight for them under the name AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Aamma). Also in the fray was Deepa Jayakumar, Jayalalithaaâ€™s niece, as an independent candidate. The DMK meanwhile had named Marudhi Ganesh as their candidate, and the BJP named composer Gangai Amaran to fight for them.
Seven months down the line though, political equations have changed in the AIADMK. EPS and OPS have merged, and won the two-leaves symbol which was frozen by the Election Commission because of their fight earlier. TTV Dhinakaran and his family have been sidelined by the other AIADMK leaders, and whether Dhinakaran will fight the election as an independent or as a different AIADMK remains to be seen.