AIADMK sitting pretty in RK Nagar bypoll

50-member team have already campaigned for the party supremo J. Jayalalithaa

Chennai: Amid key opposition parties including the DMK, Congress and the BJP boycotting Saturday’s bypoll to the Tamil Nadu Assembly from the R K Nagar constituency, the ruling AIADMK is setting pretty with a formidable 50-member team having taken the bulk of the campaigning for the party supremo J. Jayalalithaa contesting from there. While 27 other candidates including a large number of independents are in the fray, Ms Jayalalithaa’s principal adversary is CPI candidate C. Mahendran. Social activist Traffic Ramaswamy, whose public interest litigations over the years have gained him larger visibility, is being keenly watched among the Independent contestants, as he was the first to seek the support of major political parties even if his efforts did not fructify.

In a typically neglected north Chennai constituency, major Opposition parties keeping away from the polls have not exactly enthused the voters. The Opposition parties were neither keen in fielding a common candidate nor openly back a social activist like Traffic Ramaswamy when he approached the leaders.

This has only strengthened perceptions that the ruling AIADMK has an unassailable edge in the bypoll, amid oppositions’ allegations of abuse of official machinery by the ruling party. Informed sources say that while Mr Mahendran, backed by the CPI(M) and the DK, could attract a good number of anti-AIADMK votes, the CPI’s reticence in seeking the support of its erstwhile allies like the DMK has not helped the Left parties’ candidate.

“The DMK was inclined to support Mr Mahendran, but there was no request for support from CPI,” said an informed source. The Congress too has kept aloof from the scene, notwithstanding AICC member Karti P. Chidambaram making a personal appeal to the electorate to firmly rebuff the ‘votes-for-cash’ syndrome. “We are not giving any advisory to our party men,” said a Congress source. The BJP and DMDK also maintained a studious silence, even as the PMK is the only party to openly declare a boycott of the bypoll. In such a scenario, the extent to which Opposition parties’ indifference could benefit either Traffic Ramaswamy or the ‘NOTA’ category remains to be seen.

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