A day after the Election Commission of India announced the date for bye-election to the Thiruvarur Assembly constituency, the DMK is already abuzz with names of possible candidates who will contest from the seat held by former party chief M Karunanidhi. According to sources in the party, many DMK leaders want MK Stalin to contest from the seat and have conveyed their wish to the DMK President.
The leaders who are batting for Stalin include principle secretary TR Baalu and DMK whip in the assembly R Chakrapani. Sources confirm that TR Baalu met Stalin soon after the poll dates were announced. They are likely to reiterate their demand for Stalin's candidature this evening again. The DMK Chief is already the elected representative from the Kolathur constituency in Chennai. For the DMK, the seat holds emotional and symbolic significance: the person who holds Thiruvarur will be seen as holding a part of Karunanidhiâ€™s legacy. Some of these leaders want Stalin to hold the full claim. Sources close to Stalin however say that the demand had come as a surprise for him, and he was yet to take a decision.
Thiruvarur DMK District Secretary Poondi K Kalaivan told TNM that Stalin deciding to contest from the constituency would be a welcome move. "Thiruvarur has always been seen as a star constituency with Kalaignar himself having contested from here. His son continuing this legacy would be of great pride for us. No workers here will object to this because it greatly increases our chances of winning," he says. "At the district level we have been asking the President to contest but there are some practical difficulties to be taken into consideration. He is already the MLA of Kolathur, so we don't know how to manage this as of now," he adds.
Another DMK leader told TNM, "Many of us want him to contest, it is his dad's seat, and means the most for the party. But I am not sure it will happen as it's a bye-election and if he wins, he could have to vacate his Kolathur seat."
Thiruvarur has long been a DMK bastion, a seat from which Karunanidhi himself has been elected twice. The party has won from the seat six times in total. The other party that has won multiple times from this seat is the CPI(M). Thiruvarur will be a prestige battle for the DMK, and this time they will face the AIADMK and TTV Dhinakaran's AMMK.
The bye-polls are also the first that Leader of the Opposition MK Stalin would be facing as the newly-elected DMK President MK Stalin, with a lot hinging on his leadership to tap into the anti-incumbency factor.
On Monday, soon after the bye-poll was announced, the DMK had called on aspiring candidated to submit their application. The deadline for submission was January 3 and each application costs Rs.25,000.
Speaking to reporters, Stalin had said, â€śWe will evolve a strategy to win the polls. The Lok Sabha polls, slated for 2019, will bring about a great change in politics."
The Communist party of India (CPI) also extended their support to the DMK's candidate in the bye-election. The CPI is said to have significant support in the constituency and its secretary R Mutharasan promised to work for the candidate chosen by the DMK.