Tamil Nadu Erode East Bypoll: Looking Back At The Highlights Of The Campaign As The Constituency Goes To Polls
The Erode East bypoll is scheduled on 27 February. The major contestants in the fray are EVKS Elangovan of the DMK-led alliance and KS Thennarasu of the AIADMK-BJP led alliance. This article brings to you some of the most pivotal moments and issues that arose during the course of the campaign.
The bypoll for Erode East constituency was announced on 18 January by the Election Commission. It was necessitated due to the death of the sitting Congress MLA, Thirumahaan Everaa.
After a month long campaign, as the constituency goes to polls, I take a look at some of the significant issues and events that arose during the period.
Selection Of Candidates
While the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) led alliance did not take long to finalise EVKS Elangovan as their candidate, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took much longer due to two reasons.
The BJP was undecided if it wanted to contest alone and the larger Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) faction of the AIADMK was doubtful as to whether it would be able to nominate its candidate on the 'two-leaves' symbol because the smaller O Panneerselvam (OPS) faction had also decided to throw its hat into the ring.
It was only after an interim order by the Supreme Court which asked the AIADMK general council to select the candidate and OPS withdrawing his candidate Senthil Murugan, that the picture became clearer for the AIADMK-BJP alliance.
The BJP soon announced its decision to support KS Thennarasu, the candidate of the EPS faction.
Rationalist DMK Deploys Soothsayer To Predict Victory In The Name Of Jakkamma (Jakkamma Solra! Jakkamma Solra!)
Opposition parties, especially the BJP asked the DMK’s logic behind asking its party member, Salem Govindan to dress up as a soothsayer and predict the victory of EVKS Elangovan in the name of ‘Jakkamma’ during the campaign, when it formally speaks about rationality and is against what it calls 'superstitions.'
Jakkkamma is a deity traditionally worshipped by the Kambalaththu Naicker caste in southern Tamil Nadu-the community is an equivalent of the Golla or Yadava castes in other states.
Known colloquially as the 'Kudukuduppaikaaran' after the 'kudukuduppai' instrument held in their hands, these soothsayers were a popular meme in the 1980s-1990s film industry.
Erode Model Replacing Thirumangalam Model ?
Many political observers in the state have pointed out the unprecedented scale of cash distribution in the run-up to the Erode East bypoll.
While they point out that bribing voters with cash is a common phenomenon in state electoral politics, especially on voting day, the stark difference this time is multiple rounds of cash distribution and confining voters in halls and shamianas (pattis) to secure them from opposition allurement.
Minority Affairs Minister Gingee Masthan Makes ‘Parotta’
Seizure Of Tokens From A DMK Functionary
Election officials and police personnel seized tokens to be used allegedly for distributing cash to voters from the car of Sarbudeen, who is a treasurer of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) South Union. The seizure was done in Tiruppur district.
Tiruttani MLA S Chandran Campaigning On A Camel
AIADMK Plea In Madras High Court Asking It To Ensure Free And Fair Elections
C Ve Shanmugam, the organising secretary of the AIADMK had said that of the 2,26,867 names on the voter list, 30,056 were of those not residing there. 7947 names were of people who had died and 1009 names had double entries.
The Election Commission (EC) responded by saying that his petition was misconceived and exaggerated. It added that it was maintaining a separate list of absentee, shifted and dead voters and that the list was confidential.
Distribution Of Pressure Cookers
While there were allegations of distribution of meat, cash, a video of women who received pressure cookers went viral. In the video they say that they were asked to vote for Congress candidate EVKS Elangovan.
Annamalai Calling Udhayanidhi Stalin 'Brick Thief' ('Sengal Thirudan')
On the second day of his campaign in Erode East for KS Thennarasu, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president, K Annamalai called Udhayanidhi Stalin a 'Sengal Thirudan' (brick thief). He also held up a brick to reinforce his point.
A case was filed against Udhayanidhi in 2021 by a BJP member from Kovilpatti. He alleged that the brick with ‘AIIMS’ written on it that was shown by Udhayanidhi during an election campaign was stolen from the AIIMS site and thus was punishable under law.
'Six Months To Next Month': Hastening of Rs 1000 For Women Heads Of Family Scheme
After Annamalai's criticism of the DMK government for not fulfilling its promises, like the Rs 1000 per month aid to women heads of family and the Rs 100 per subsidy per LPG cylinder, Udhayanidhi Stalin said that Chief Minister MK Stalin would make an announcement in the next five or six months. He also blamed the previous AIADMK government for leaving the state under a mountain of debt.
However, the DMK government, seemingly under pressure, decided to hasten the implementation of the scheme and on the last day of the campaign (25 February) Chief Minister Stalin said that an announcement would be made in the state budget to presented in March.
Read our Erode East bypoll coverage here.
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