In what has become a surprise turn on the heated political course in the Erode East constituency bypoll, the Congress party has announced that it will field former Union Minister EVKS Elangovan as its candidate in the bypoll. Elangovan is a veteran Congress leader and father of deceased MLA Thirumahan Everaa, whose demise had necessitated the bypoll, which will be held on February 27.
74-year-old Elangovan is also the former chief of Tamil Nadu Congress Committee and his candidature has astonished many within and beyond the party as Elangovan's name was on the foray but it was never thought that he would surpass the probable candidates as it is less likely that any parliamentarian and former Union Minister would walk into the assembly. It was reported that the Congress party would pick a family member of Thirumahan Everaa.
Thirumahan has died on January 4 at the age of 46 due to cardiac arrest. As the bypoll would test the leadership of key leaders in the opposition, the ruling DMK has announced that its ally Congress would contest again in the constituency. Looking into probable candidates, Thirumahan Everaa's wife Poornima and his brother Sanjay Sampath were in sight as the sources said that Elangovan initially rejected speculations that he would contest in the bypoll.
On the other hand, a Congress party faction against Elangovan was trying to finalize Erode District Congress Secretary Makkal Rajan as the party's candidate. Rajan had also petitioned to the state leadership and made a teary appeal to the party that he deserves the seat as he worked for the party at the grassroots for many years. The faction against Elangovan was also pointing out Elangovan's debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and urged to award seat to Makkal Rajan.
Elangovan was also in the mind of staying off from the bypoll ballot with the view of contesting in the Erode Lok Sabha constituency in the 2024 general elections and it was reported that any of his family members would contest in the bypoll to retain Elangovan's stronghold and to retain the strength of the Congress party in the assembly. However, on Sunday, the Congress party has twisted the tale by announcing Elangovan as the party's candidate.
In a statement, Congress party's general secretary Mukul Wasnik said, "The Congress President, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge, has approved the candidature of Shri EVKS Elangovan as Congress candidate for the ensuing bye-election to the Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu from 98 - Erode (East) Constituency." Notably, the announcement came a day after Elangovan said he was not interested to contest and he pitched for the candidature of his younger son Sanjay Sampath.
It has been reported that the Congress party's central leadership was keen on Elangovan's candidature and after the announcement of his candidacy, Elangovan thanked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin for announcing the support to the Congress party. Responding to the speculations whether the BJP would field its candidate and would contest independently, Elangovan said the Congress party would comfortably win in the bypoll if BJP contests against it.
Elangovan is the grandson of Thanthai Periyar and he was elected to the Tamil Nadu assembly for the first time in 1984 from the Sathyamangalam constituency in Congress's ticket. In the 2004 general elections, Elangovan was elected as a Lok Sabha MP from Gobichettipalayam and during his first term as an MP, Elangovan served as the Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Textiles. He contested in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Erode and lost the race to MDMK's candidate. In 2014, he was appointed as Chief of Tamil Nadu Congress and in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he contested from Theni and he was eventually defeated by ADMK's OP Ravindranath Kumar, the son of ADMK leader O Panneerselvam.