Chennai: The electoral battle for the bye-election to the Erode East Assembly constituency is all set to turn into a direct catfight between the traditional foes, the DMK and the AIADMK, as Edappadi K Palaniswami has formed a 111-member committee, headed by K A Sengottaiyan to oversee the campaign against the 41-member panel of the DMK.
A cursory look at the AIADMK’s committee members reveals that it is a who’s who of the party with all former Ministers and top honchos figuring in it, indicating Palaniswami’s resolve to fight it out, come what may. Soon after the formation of the committee, he called all those who were around Salem for a meeting at Omalur and kick started the work in earnest, sending out a message that other impediments had been cleared.
Though there was a possibility of the rival faction leader O Panneerselvam eating into the traditional AIADMK vote bank and an uncertainty over the allocation of the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol hung over the political horizon, the confident manner in which Palaniswami surged ahead on Thursday, it looked that he will be fighting the DMK, which is determined to ensure the victory of E V K S Elangovan of the Congress party.
The DMK starting its campaign in the constituency ahead of even the Congress cadre grouping themselves to work for their leader was a clear indication of the ruling party’s desperation to win the first bye-election after it assumed power for its alliance candidate and the rival camp was keen on thwarting it.
The BJP, which had been trying to project itself as the worthy rival to the DMK, had so far shown no interest in fielding a candidate and in fact the party’s State President K Annamalai had suggested that the AIADMK would only be able to put up a fight against the might of the DMK.
So with the Palaniswami faction all set to announce its candidate by Friday – it could be former Minister K V Ramalingam or former MLA K S Thenarasu – the grapevine has it that the BJP has not only moved out of the race but might also remove the other impediments that might come the way of the AIADMK candidate’s victory.
The BJP might make Panneerselvam to keep off the race and also restore the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol with the Palaniswami group, which will come as a shot in the arm for the AIADMK candidate. Even those like the DMDK and T T V Dinakaran may be asked to not enter the fray, it is said.
So, that might leave the arena open for a keenly contested direct fight between the DMK and AIADMK with no room for the scattering of votes since everyone believes that the bye-election will be a harbinger to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.