Erode East bypoll: DMK and Congress embark their campaign...Who would be the Congress candidate?

The Tamil Nadu ruling party DMK and its ally Congress have kickstarted their campaign in the Erode East constituency bypoll amid beleaguering opposition. Though both the parties have started campaigning, their candidate is yet to be announced, which leads to the big question and speculations. 

Erode East bypoll will be held on February 27 and the ruling DMK has awarded the seat to the Congress party to contest again and to retain its strength in the assembly. The seat was declared vacant after the shocking demise of Congress MLA Thirumahan Everaa, who died on January 4 at the age of 46 due to heart attack. As the bypoll is month away, the election fever and furore is back in the state.

After awarding the seat to the Congress party, both the DMK and Congress cadres in Erode have begun door-to-door campaigning on Saturday. The campaign was led by Tamil Nadu Minister S Muthusamy, who is a native of Erode. As there no major divide in the DMK alliance like in the opposition on contesting the Erode East bypoll, speculations are rife across and beyond social media on who would be the Congress candidate. 

Relying on a family vs picking one from the ground 

The deceased legislator, Thirumahan Everaa has a historical political background. He was the great-grandson of Thanthai Periyar and the son of veteran Congress leader EVKS Elangovan, who was the former Union Minister and former chief of Tamil Nadu Congress Committee. So, it has been reported that Everaa would be succeeded by one of his family members. 

According to reports, Everaa's family is keen to keep the seat at its hand at a high time when Elangovan is planning to contest in the Erode Lok Sabha constituency in the 2024 general election. With the view of retaining the stronghold, either Thirumahan Everaa's wife Poornima or his brother Sanjay Sampath would contest in Erode East. 

Initially, the Congress leadership has asked Elangovan to contest in the bypoll. However, he rejected with an eye on the general election and further told the party to look outside his family if both the probable candidates Poornima and Sanjay Sampath decline to contest in the bypoll. Elangovan said that he will convince his younger son Sanjay Sampath to take the political baton and if there is a denial, the party would pick one from the ground.

As Congress party has a slew of factions, one of the factions that is against Elangovan is advocating to field someone from the grassroots level. It has been reported that a section of Congress leaders in the state, including Congress chief KS Alagiri, is planning to pick a local leader from Erode. The faction that is against Elangovan is supporting the candidature of Makkal Rajan, who is the Erode District Secretary of the Congress. 

The faction is also pointing out Elangovan's debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as he lost to OPS's son OP Ravindranath Kumar and Elangovan's defeat is the only debacle that the DMK alliance faced in the state. As these events are bustling behind the screens, the voters in the Erode East are closely watching the political turns and waiting to see the final contenders on the ballot.