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Dravidian majors redraw battle lines for Erode East by-poll, contest likely between Congress, AIADMK

CHENNAI: With a clear picture emerging on the candidates in poll fray, the political parties, especially the Dravidian majors, are redrawing the battle lines in a keenly watched contest in Erode East Assembly constituency where the ruling DMK has already launched a hectic campaign in support of its ally the Congress.

The opposition AIADMK led by its interim general secretary K Palaniswami, relieved as his rival O Panneerselvam decided to campaign for the party’s Two Leaves symbol for the February 27 by-poll, held a meeting with senior functionaries to strategise the poll campaign. Though the presence of four political parties viz. the Congress, AIADMK, DMDK and Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK), in the fray, indicate a quadrangular contest, the by-election is likely to be a straight contest between the Congress candidate and former Union Minister E V K S Elangovan and AIADMK’s former lawmaker K S Thennarasu.

On Wednesday, the Election Commission accepted the nomination papers of 80 candidates including many independents and rejected 41 during the scrutiny. Besides the nominations of Elangovan and K S Thennarasu, the papers submitted by S Anand of DMDK and Menaka of NTK were also accepted after scrutiny by the Returning Officer K Sivakumar.

February 10 is the last date for withdrawal of nominations.

DMK president and Chief Minister M K Stalin is scheduled to undertake a two-day election whirlwind tour of the constituency on February 24 and 25 and garner votes for Elangovan. The Chief Minister is set to campaign in more than 35 wards in the constituency. In addition, his son and State Youth Welfare and Sports Development Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin, and DMK deputy general secretary and MP Kanimozhi would visit Erode to campaign for the ally.

Former CM Palaniswami will also campaign for his party candidate for five days from February 12. A battery of former State Ministers are canvasing for Thennarasu.

Seeman, chief coordinator of the NTK, is set to address a series of election meetings for three days from February 13 in the constituency.

Although several political parties could be seen campaigning, the BJP, which has extended support to the AIADMK candidate is yet to launch its poll campaign. Meanwhile, Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) general secretary T T V Dhinakaran who opted out of the poll race at the eleventh hour, appealed to all parties opposed to the DMK to consolidate their forces and defeat the DMK-backed candidate at the hustings.

”I did not say we are not contesting this by-poll in support of the AIADMK candidate. I had urged all true followers of Amma (late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa) to unite to defeat the DMK. The AMMK has decided not to contest as the Election Commission could not allot the pressure cooker symbol to our candidate,” Dhinakaran clarified his stand during a press conference in Chennai on Wednesday.

Source: Press Trust of india

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