The voters and the political leaders in Tamil Nadu are all set to know who is people's choice to rule the state for the next five years as the state is just two days ahead of unveiling the winner of the recently-held assembly polls, the first legislative election since the demise of political giants Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa. The state had gone through the single-phase assembly poll on April 6 and the votes will be counted on May 2.
For the first time in the history of Tamil Nadu, the state will be under complete lockdown during the vote-counting in the light of the pandemic. The state had witnessed five fronts in the crucial assembly polls and recorded over 70% voter turnout on the poll day amid the grounds of a strong anti-incumbency wave with several pre-polls suggesting that DMK would register a landslide victory. As the vote-counting will begin at 8 am on Sunday, TNS has picked ten star constituencies that you must watch for in the election results.
Earned the limelight by being the constituency of incumbent Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, Edappadi has caught the major attention from across the state as the election results from this constituency hold the key to determine the future of Edappadi Palaniswami both in politics and in the party. The Chief Minister had contested from Edappadi for the third consecutive time and with the fame that he has represented the seat four times in the assembly. This time, he took on DMK's newbie Sampathkumar and several predictions have shown that Palaniswami leads in the heavily fought race. In 2016, he won the constituency by securing 98,703 votes, nearly 40,000 more than the runner-up candidate.
Winning Bodinayakkanur is equal to winning Tamil Nadu for ADMK's Coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister Panneerselvam. This election was in fact an acid test for Panneerselvam to retain his stronghold in his home district of Theni. Panneerselvam had won the constituency twice in 2011 and 2016 under the leadership of Jayalalithaa but this time, the party lacks such a potent leadership and winning the seat for the third consecutive time is a Himalayan task for Panneerselvam as this time, he took on his direct rival DMK's Thanga Tamilselvan and the anti-incumbency wave would cause damage for Panneerselvam's victory. In 2016, Panneerselvam had won the seat by securing 99,531 votes, 15,000 votes more than the runner-up candidate. The pre-poll surveys had predicted that Thanga Tamilselvan would defeat the incumbent legislator.
Like Edappadi Palaniswami and Panneerselvam, DMK President MK Stalin is also eyeing to register a third consecutive victory from Kolathur. Being predicted that Stalin would become the next Chief Minister, Kolathur voters most likely will credit themselves for making Kolathur the Chief Ministerial constituency. With the lack of strong opposition candidate and pro-DMK wave, Stalin will most probably register a lenient victory and would enter the assembly for the third consecutive time. In 2016, Stalin won Kolathur by securing 91,303 votes, nearly 40,000 votes more than ADMK's JCD Prabhakar.
After entering the assembly through RK Nagar, AMMK's TTV Dhinakaran has this time contested from the Kovilpatti constituency and he took on incumbent MLA ADMK's Kadambur Raju, who is a senior minister in the current cabinet. Kovilpatti has witnessed one of the fierce battles between the mighty candidates and while Raju hopes to enter the assembly, ADMK's flawed leadership would put a break before him as the surveys had predicted that Dhinakaran will emerge victorious with the arm of caste and anti-incumbency wave against ADMK. Kadambur Raju had won the seat in the 2011 and 2016 polls and he had secured 64,514 votes in the last elections, just 500 votes more than the runner-up candidate.
5) Coimbatore South:
Coimbatore South is one of the star constituencies that has been under immense watch in Tamil Nadu. This constituency has become the first constituency for Kamal Haasan as he contested in the assembly polls for the first time. The thespian turned politician had faced a strong battle against BJP's National Women wing president Vanathi Srinivasan. They both had AMMK's Doraisamy, INC's Mayura Jayakumar, and NTK's Abdul Wakab as the contenders in the race. In 2016, ADMK's Amman K Arjunan has won the election by securing 59,788 votes, 17,000 votes more than INC's Mayura Jayakumar. The surveys had predicted that Kamal Haasan could have a breakthrough.
Apart from Edappadi Palaniswami and Panneerselvam, SP Velumani is one of the power grids of the ADMK having the stronghold in the party's larger voter base - the Kongu belt. SP Velumani is the minister of local administration and rose to the bigshot in the party by observing close ties with Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami. He has contesting from the Thondamuthur constituency in the assembly polls and took on DMK's Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, who is popularly known as the jallikattu activist. Sivasenapathy is a vocal critic of the ADMK government has been serving as the DMK's Environmental wing secretary. In 2016, Velumani has secured 1,09,519 votes and he aims to enter the assembly for the third consecutive time, but he may land in a debacle.
7) Thousand Lights:
Being the constituency of the sector of downtown Chennai, it has seen a staunch race between BJP's Khushbu Sundar and DMK's Ezhilan. The saffron party has fielded the veteran actor, months after joining the party and given the task of ensuring the party's victory from the DMK's stronghold. It has to be noted that then DMK's MLA Ku Ka Selvam, who won the seat in the last election, had joined the BJP and campaigned for Khusbu. The saffron party thinks to win this seat to establish a strong base in Chennai but the party must be ready to brace up the fact that the people have thought the other way. In 2016, Ku Ka Selvam had won the seat by securing 61,726 votes, 9,000 votes more than the runner-up candidate ADMK's Valarmathi.
8) Chepauk- Triplicane:
Another crucial constituency in Chennai that only sees DMK's symbol in the ballot box of every election as the constituency had elected the DMK's representative in the past two elections. J Anbalagan was the MLA of this constituency in the 2011 and 2016 assemblies and he had died of COVID-19 last year. Powered by the stronghold, DMK has fielded Stalin's son Udhayanidhi Stalin and the latter has contested in the polls for the first time. With the DMK's stronghold and the lack of a strong contender, junior Stalin eyes a comfortable victory and after a father-son duo of Karunanidhi and Stalin, the assembly would see another father-son duo of Stalin and Udhayanidhi Stalin.
Karur district has presented transport ministers for the past two assemblies. The constituency had seen a strong clash of the archnemesis Senthil Balaji and MR Vijayabaskar. Senthil Balaji was with the ADMK until he was removed by Jayalalithaa. After the demise of the latter, he had joined Dhinakaran's AMMK, and finally, he has found a shelter in DMK. Due to his presence and support in the district, he emerged to be a strong contender for Vijayabaskar and for both the rivals, winning Karur this time will be equal to winning in their lives. Due to his reach and ADMK's anti-incumbency wave, Senthil Balaji will likely finish the race with a decent margin.
Another star constituency from Karur, Aravakurichi had witnessed a tight race between BJP's Annamalai and DMK's Elango. Annamalai is the Tamil Nadu BJP's Vice President and he was a former IPS officer. He has been vowing that the ADMK-BJP alliance will win the election and form the new government in the albeit of not being sure to find his victory shore. In 2016, Senthil Balaji had won the seat in the ADMK ticket and he was disqualified by the House Speaker post which the by-poll had held in the constituency. However, Senthil Balaji had again won the election under DMK's ticket and got 38,000 votes more than ADMK's Senthil Nathan.