Chennai: TTV Dhinakaran, the nephew of VK Sasikala, jailed aide of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, secured a landslide victory in the by-polls for the Dr Radhakrishnan (RK) Nagar Assembly constituency in Chennai on Sunday polling 89,013 of the 1,76,890 votes polled. His nearest rival, E Madhusudhanan, a former minister and AIADMK candidate, came a distant second polling 48,306 votes. The R K Nagar seat had fallen vacant following Jayalalithaa’s death a year ago.
Dhinakaran contested as an Independent candidate after being thrown out of the ruling AIADMK, which had united under the leadership of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam. What shocked many though was the fact that DMK’s Marudhu Ganesh, who was supported by the Congress, the Left, the MDMK and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, polled a mere 24,651 votes and lost his deposit along with rest of the 56 candidates.
The BJP candidate faced the ignominy of securing just 1,417 votes, way behind the 2,373 votes registered in the NOTA option. An upset DMK working president M K Stalin said the results of the by-polls were a Himalayan defeat for the Election Commission, than for his own party. He was alluding to the charge that the poll body had failed to curb the flow of cash into the constituency.
Irrespective of the allegations by the opposition, by registering such a massive victory Dhinakaran has signalled that he has emerged as a leader in his own right. Observers feel that the AIADMK could witness a churning very soon with many of its functionaries switching loyalties and rallying behind Dhinakaran as a central figure in the party.
“It is clear that Dhinakaran has emerged as a charismatic leader who can safeguard the AIADMK and its vote bank. His victory margin is 1,090 votes higher than that of Jayalalithaa’s in the 2016 general elections from the same constituency. While money is suspected to played a major role in his victory, the landslide nature of the verdict indicates that he is being recognised as Jayalalithaa’s political heir and people favour him as opposed to the joint leadership of the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam combine,” said political commentator Narayanan.
Palaniswami and Panneerselvam could in the coming days find it difficult to retain their flock. On Sunday evening the Vellore MP Senguttavan met Dhinakaran to congratulate him, an indication of the things to come. Not just that, the State could witness a political realignment and the Dravidian rule, which began in 1967, might continue with the AIADMK and the DMK facing each other and leaving little room for third players. It is felt that this could also push back the political entry plans of actors such as Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan.
Dhinakaran, who was banished into political exile in December 2011 by the late Jayalalithaa, returned to limelight after her death and was appointed deputy general secretary of the AIADMK by his aunt V.K. Sasikala in February before she went to jail. Ever since Dhinakaran has smiled his way to popularity despite facing an arrest by the Delhi police in an alleged Election Commission bribery case and his relatives facing the heat from the Income Tax Department.
“For the DMK this verdict would challenge Stalin’s capacity to steer his party. Imagine losing the deposit in a by-election where the AIADMK’s votes were split between Dhinakaran and Madhusudanan! The DMK could not even retain its vote share of about 20-25% in the constituency. Just a year ago, when Jayalalithaa contested, the DMK candidate had polled 57,420 votes,” pointed out an analyst.
Ironically, a CBI court in Delhi had acquitted DMK leaders A Raja and Kanimozhi in the 2G spectrum allocation case on the day of the polling. “Yet this did not influence the voters in the constituency or make them swerve towards the DMK,” the analyst added.
AGAINST ALL ODDS
- Independent candidate Dhinakaran records landslide win in big blow to ruling AIADMK pair
- Dhinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew, had been cast aside by the AIADMK after the two feuding factions led by E Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam patched up
- He was also arrested for allegedly bribing EC officials to secure the ‘two leaves’ symbol of the AIADMK. Finally, he contested on the ‘pressure cooker’ symbol.
- AIADMK may witness a churning: Palaniswami and Panneerselvam could find it difficult to retain their flock
- DMK could not even retain its vote share of about 20-25% in the constituency; this is seen as a setback for Stalin
- May constrain Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, forcing them to delay their political entry.