December 6, 2017
Image credit : Illustrative Image
The RK Nagar Assembly constituency, going to by-polls on Dec 21, has been a witness to acts of deception and desperation today.
Promising a high voltage drama of sorts, this urban segment in the North Chennai, favoured the late and former Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa, sending her twice to the fort. But her demise last year has left the constituency too like her party getting caught in the ebb and flow of the churning the Tamil Nadu politics has been witnessing today.
Besides being a prestige for the ruling AIADMK, which has seen a multiple split after her death, a win here can send a message to its adversaries and others that the party remains intact. The death of Jayalalithaa and the imprisonment of Sasikala, the EPS and OPS factions wish to convey, have not made any major impact on the party’s survivability in today’s political environment.
The two factions – one by OPS and another by EPS – have merged to convince the ECI to de-freeze the party symbol, `Two Leaves,’ which was frozen after rival factions staked claim during the postponed RK Nagar polls. The battle between OPS and the now-jailed Sasikala to capture the party had led to ECI freezing the symbol. Today the name and the symbol are with the OPS-EPS faction, which has fielded their veteran E. Madhusudanan though the leader of Sasikala group, TTV Dinakaran, is also in the fray.
For the AIADMK, a win at RK Nagar is considered to be a sacred referendum on its present rule. Besieged by a bevy of allegations of corruption, confusion, maladministration, anti-people and pro-BJP etc., the party latching on to the power is struggling to convince the detractors and the state. They also have to keep at bay the principal opposition party, DMK, which has been patiently waiting at the wings to occupy the seat of power.
Their desperation is not camouflaged. Political observers say that with Dinakaran contesting, the ruling dispensation is feeling uncomfortable. And when the popular cine star Vishal Krishna also decided to jump into the fray, it made them jittery. “They are apprehensive that their votes would be split. It is also feared that the disenchanted within the party, who prefer neither the OPS-EPS faction nor the Sasikala group, would either keep off the poll booth or vote for a known face though these die-hard cadres rarely vote for the DMK,” he pointed out.
Here is where actor Vishal tried to leverage. “It would not be a surprise that these fence-sitters within the party would not be reluctant to vote for a popular hero, eroding into their vote share. Dinakaran who is contesting as an independent is also expected to eat into their pie,” the observer felt.
Hence, a high drama of deception is unveiling in RK Nagar today. Vishal’s papers were rejected by the Returning Officer for having two bogus proposers. Vishal produced an audio clip of a telephonic conversation which claimed that they were intimidated allegedly by the supporters of Madhusudanan. The RO is said to have accepted the nomination but only to reject it later saying that the veracity of the audio clip could not be ascertained. A crestfallen Vishal had to be content with the sudden turn of events. He said that he would identify an independent candidate and work for his victory. The nomination of Deepa, Jayalalithaa’s niece was also rejected since it did not contain relevant details under the `Details of Assets’ column.
Dinakaran is facing a tough time. One of his followers claimed that a few forces are working overtime to ensure that the ‘hat’ symbol he is asking for is denied. During the postponed bypoll period, he made the hat a popular symbol among the electorate. “They are behind sly manoeuvres to defeat him. Some obscure parties have also asked for the hat symbol,” he alleged. The EC may go for lots to allot the symbol since three candidates have already staked claim for ‘hat’.
These developments, no doubt, have placed the DMK in an advantageous slot today. With Jayalalithaa at the helm, the AIADMK has been winning a string of elections despite the best efforts put in by the main rivals, DMK. However, her demise, and the internecine activities within the party have made the RK Nagar poll, otherwise a walkover for it, the most tightly contested election in Tamil Nadu’s history.