Chennai: The Election Commission (EC) has cancelled the Thiruvarur Assembly by-election in Tamil Nadu, citing the ongoing relief work after the Gaja cyclone that devastated major parts of Thiruvarur district, giving a huge relief to major political parties who were seen as reluctant to contest the election ahead of general elections.
The Commission said it has rescinded the January 3 notification for the bye-election scheduled on January 28 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of former chief minister M. Karunanidhi in August.
All the major political parties have welcomed the EC decision and are heaving a sigh of relief. They had demanded postponement of the by-election as it would impact the Gaja cyclone relief work in the constituency.
Meanwhile, political analysts said the Gaja cyclone that left a trail of destruction in several districts had now turned into a ‘gentle breeze’ for the by-election wary AIADMK and DMK.
In a communication to the Chief Electoral Officer, Tamil Nadu, the EC on Sunday said the notification calling upon Thiruvarur to elect a member of the Assembly shall stand rescinded forthwith.
Welcoming the EC’s action, DMK President M.K. Stalin said the poll body should have been announced by-elections for all the 20 Assembly constituencies that are vacant instead of just Thiruvarur.
There might have been a hidden agenda for the announcement of the by-election for Thiruvarur alone, he said.
Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar said the AIADMK party was ready to face the by-elections for all the 20 constituencies and not just in Thiruvarur.
On her part, BJP’s Tamil Nadu President Tamilisai Soundararajan said the need of the hour in Thiruvarur was relief and not election.
Taking a dig at the DMK, AMMK and others who had announced their candidates for the by-election, Soundararajan said the parties that did not show alacrity in carrying out the relief work showed alacrity in announcing their candidates.
She criticised the CPI for filing a petition with the EC against holding the by-election while extending its support to the DMK.
But AMMK leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran termed the EC action a mockery of democratic process.
Terming the EC decision a big relief for the AIADMK and DMK, political analyst Raveendhran Dhuraiswamy said that after losing the R.K. Nagar by-election, Stalin cannot afford another defeat and that too in the seat held by Karunanidhi.
For Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, a win in Thiruvarur will not make any major difference in terms of numbers as the government is well in the saddle, he added.
The AIADMK too cannot afford a repeat of R.K. Nagar by-election result at Thiruvarur — that is losing to Dhinakaran a seat held by their leader J. Jayalalithaa.
“The Thiruvarur by-election is a major perception battle for both the AIADMK and DMK ahead of Lok Sabha polls,” political analyst Jhon Arokiasamy said.
“Victory or defeat will affect the confidence of current and potential alliances for both the Dravidian parties,” he said.