With 20 Seats Vacant, It Will Be Mini-Assembly Poll In Tamil Nadu

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The bypolls will be an acid test for the leadership of Chief Minister K. Palaniswami (File)

Chennai:

A total of 20 assembly seats are vacant in Tamil Nadu as of Thursday following the Madras High Court judgment in the AIADMK MLAs case and it will be a sort of mini-assembly elections if bypolls are to held simultaneously.

The bypolls for 20 seats will be an acid test for the leadership of Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, DMK President M.K. Stalin and the sidelined AIADMK leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran, now an independent legislator, said a political analyst.

"Normally bypolls are to be held within six months of a seat falling vacant. Owning to the death of MLAs — M.Karunanidhi (Tiruvarur) and A.K.Bose (Thiruparankundram) two seats are vacant.

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"The Madras High Court on Thursday upheld the Tamil Nadu Speaker P. Dhanapal's decision to disqualify 18 dissident AIADMK legislators, taking the total of vacant seats to 20. If the bypolls are held by the Election Commission then it will be a sort of mini-assembly elections," political analyst John Arokiasamy told IANS.

"The Election Commission cannot postpone holding bypolls for 20 constituencies leaving. The people need their representatives in the assembly with more than three years left for the assembly polls," he said.

There are various possibilities of holding the bypolls separately or along with the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

According to him, it is advantage DMK if the bypolls are held. Even if DMK wins 10 seats then the stability of the AIADMK government will be an issue.

"The bypolls if held for 20 seats will be like a mini assembly poll. It will put to test the leadership of Palaniswami, Stalin and Dhinakaran," Mr Arokiasamy said.

He said the polls will also test the strength of two leaves symbol of AIADMK under the current party leadership.

Differing with him another analyst S. Raveenthran Thuraiswamy told IANS: "In my view the bypolls will be held along with the Lok Sabha polls. The split in AIADMK is between two major castes-Gounder and Devars. The Devar community will back Dhinakaran while the Gounder will back Palaniswami. The DMK may not get any advantage but may lose the votes of these two castes," Mr Thuraiswamy said.

Meanwhile Stalin in a statement said the bypolls for the 20 assembly constituencies should be held immediately.

In the 235-member Assembly, the AIADMK has 115 members followed by the DMK with 88, Congress eight, one of the IUML, one Independent, the Speaker and 20 vacant seats (18 disqualified and two dead). Besides, there is a nominated member.

Three legislators though belonging to three different parties won their seats under the AIADMK's two leaves symbol. Of that, one legislator Karunas is openly supporting Mr Dhinakaran.

Reacting to the judgement in the MLAs disqualification case, Mr Dhinakaran told reporters: "We will discuss with the 18 legislators and decide on the future course of action." He said it was "an experience for us".

"If the 18 disqualified legislators decide to go on appeal against the decision, then we will go for an appeal," Mr Dhinakaran said.

Speaking to reporters after the Madras High Court verdict the advocate for 18 disqualified legislators N. Raja Senthoor Pandian said there are three options — appeal to the Supreme Court, face bypolls or prefer an appeal and face the bypolls.

A spokesperson of PMK N.Vinobha said that the Election Commission has to hold the bypolls for Thiruparankundram and Tiruvarur constituencies by February 2019.

The PMK, as a policy, does not contest in bypolls.

Queried whether the party would continue with that policy if bypolls are held for 20 seats simultaneously Vinobha said: "Two scenarios are there. The bypolls could be held separately or held together with Lok Sabha polls. The party high command would take a decision on that."

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