It's official: ADMK to contest in the Erode East bypoll...Who would be the candidate?

It has become official that Tamil Nadu's Opposition party ADMK will contest directly in the Erode East bypoll that will be held on February 27, 2023. As the party is getting ready to roll out the electoral battle ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the party's interim general secretary Edappadi Palaniswami is assaying to prove his leadership for a single-command of ADMK amid fighting with his rival O Panneerselvam in taking over the party. 

The ADMK's decision to contest in the polls has come after GK Vasan's Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) had made its mind to forgo the seat in the best interest of the ADMK-led alliance. The Erode East constituency was represented by Congress MLA Thirumahan Everaa, who died on January 4 at the age of 46 due to heart attack. A fortnight after his demise, the Election Commission has on January 18 announced the date for the Erode East bypoll, triggering the race between the parties. 

In the 2021 assembly polls, DMK has awarded the Erode East seat to its ally Congress while the ADMK gave the seat to its ally TMC. In the battle between Congress and TMC, Congress's Thirumahan Everaa won the polls at the margin of over 8000 votes. Following Everaa's demise, it was reported that the Erode East constituency would witness a rematch between the Congress and TMC.  

However, there was a twist in the tale with sources suggesting that DMK would cross the swords with the ADMK directly. After the bypoll date was announced, the TMC held talks with the ADMK to seek a re-run but ADMK's Palaniswami had made a plan to field a candidate from his party to display his leadership to take full control of the party. Though Palaniswami has been caught up with the leadership crisis, he believes that contesting in the bypoll and garnering a good amount of vote would prove his fortress in the Kongu belt and boost his caliber to lead the party.  

On Thursday, senior ADMK leader D Jayakumar met TMC's chief GK Vasan and held talks with him about contesting in the bypoll. A day after the meeting, the TMC has on Friday officially announced that the ADMK will contest in the Erode East bypoll. In a statement, GK Vasan said, "ADMK wanted to contest in the byelections considering the current political situation and future elections. This decision has been taken with the welfare of the people and the welfare of the alliance parties in mind." 

As ADMK's Palaniswami won convincing Vasan in the bypoll race, his next big task would be finalizing the candidate. According to our sources, Palaniswami would field former ADMK Minister KV Ramalingam in the Erode East bypoll. Ramalingam was elected to the assembly from the Erode West constituency in 2011 and he also served as the Minister of Public Works Department and Minister of Sports and Youth Welfare of Tamil Nadu from 2011 to 2013. 

As Ramalingam is a native of Erode and as Palaniswami has a strong backing of his Kongu Community in Erode, the voters' verdict will decide Palaniswami's command in the party, although it is less likely that ADMK would change the political pragmatism that the ruling party will win the bypolls to the assembly. Another big task for Palaniswami is how he is going to manage his rival leader O Panneerselvam, who is still ADMK's coordinator, as per the Election Commission, though Palaniswami expelled him from the party. 

In his rival with Palaniswami, Panneerselvam would less likely consent to the former's plan and candidacy. With the view of winning the ADMK's Two leaves symbol for his faction ahead of the bypoll, Palaniswami is planning to approach the Election Commission to remove the trouble. On the other hand, the ruling DMK will has announced that the Congress party will contest in the bypoll again. The Congress is planning to field a family member of Thirumahan Everaa, who was the son of former Union Minister EVKS Elangovan and the great-grandson of Thanthai Periyar. 

It has been reported that the Congress party would field Thirumahan Everaa's wife Poornima as its candidate. On Thursday, KS Alagiri said, "Erode East is our constituency. It is the constituency that we won. We have asked our allied parties DMK, MDMK, VCK to extend their support to us." While the bypoll will be held on February 27, the counting of votes will take place on March 2, 2023, during which the results will be announced. The filing of nomination will begin on January 31 and the last date to file nominations will be February 7. The scrutiny of nominations will take place on February 8 and the last date to withdraw the nomination will be February 10.