The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday announced that the bypolls for Aravakurichi, Ottapidaram (SC), Sulur and Tirupparankundram Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu would be held on May 19.
The results would be declared on May 23, when the outcome of the byelections to 18 Assembly constituencies and the general election would also be known.
While the Aravakurichi and Ottapidaram (SC) seats had fallen vacant with the disqualification of dissident AIADMK legislators, in the other two constituencies, the ruling party MLAs had died.
As per the schedule, the gazette notification for the bypolls would be issued on April 22 and the last date for filing of nominations would be April 29. The nominations would be scrutinised on April 30 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations would be May 2.
Since the election process is already on till May 23, there will be no change in the duration of the Model Code of Conduct.
The results of the bypolls to these 22 Assembly constituencies would have a direct bearing on the continuance or otherwise of the Edappadi Palaniswami government, surviving on a wafer-thin majority in a House with a reduced strength of 212 as against the sanctioned strength of 234.
Taking into account the position of various parties in the House and making an allowance for a few fence-sitters within the party, Mr. Palaniswami would have to ensure that the AIADMK bagged at least 8-10 seats to sail through the remainder of his term till May 2021.
At present, the AIADMK has 113 members (excluding the Speaker) and its rival DMK-led alliance has 97 MLAs, including eight from the Congress and one from the Indian Union Muslim League. T.T.V. Dhinakaran is an independent MLA. The DMK with its allies would be able to stake its claim to forming a government if its candidates win in 21 constituencies, taking its tally to 118, just one past the simple majority mark.
Incidentally, V. Senthil Balaji, a disqualified legislator from Aravakurichi, is now in the DMK.
Though 21 of these seats were declared vacant before the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls were announced last month, the ECI cited the pendency of election petitions in Aravakurichi, Ottapidaram (SC) and Tirupparankundram constituencies for not announcing bypolls in these seats. Eventually, the election petition relating to Ottapidaram was withdrawn, while the Madras High Court declared the election of the AIADMK member as invalid in Tirupparankundram. After the DMK moved the Supreme Court for holding bypolls in all three seats, the ECI submitted in the apex court in March end that it would hold bypolls in these seats “within a reasonable time”.
In the interim, AIADMK MLA Kanagaraj died on March 21 and the Sulur constituency was declared vacant.