Edapaddi K Palaniswami, MK Stalin Lead List Of Big Names On The Ballot In Tamil Nadu Polls


EPS, Stalin Lead List Of Big Names On The Ballot In Tamil Nadu Polls

Tamil Nadu Assembly Election: Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami is bidding for re-election (File)

Tamil Nadu politics has been dominated by the DMK and AIADMK, with the two Dravidian giants traditionally swapping terms to keep national parties from power. However, this election could buck that trend, with new faces challenging the older ones.

Here are the top 10 candidates in the Tamil Nadu Assembly election:

  1. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, or EPS, will contest from Salem’s Edappadi district, where he faces a youngster – T Sampath Kumar of the DMK. A four-time MLA from here, he is unlikely to be shocked. The constituency has a large Vanniyar population and in February, he provided them with 10.5 per cent quota (within the existing 20 per cent) for admission to educational institutions and posts in government services. Plus, the district has already seen the advantages of being the Chief Minister’s Assembly seat.

  2. Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, or OPS, will face the DMK’s Thanga Tamizh Selvan, or TTS, from Bodinayakanur in Theni district. Mr Selvan, a former AIADMK member, was handpicked by Jayalalithaa to represent her Andipatti seat after she moved to Srirangam. OPS’ more immediate problem, though, is votes from the Thevars, who may be disappointed with him after he let control of the state pass to EPS, who hails from the Gounders. The presence of Sasikala – expelled former AIDMK chief – also complicates matters because her supporters might switch to the AMMK that is run by her nephew TTV Dhinakaran.

  3. MK Stalin, the current Leader of the Opposition and the DMK’s chief ministerial candidate, MK Stalin is targeting a third consecutive term from Kolathur. He faces the AIADMK’s Aadi Rajaram in a constituency that has a large middle- and lower-middle class, and Muslim population. Stalin does have the support of the Left unions and Muslim voters, and should win comfortably. However, the AIADMK has sought his disqualification and cancellation of polling here alleging violations.

  4. TTV Dhinakaran, the AMMK (Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam) chief secured a stunning win in the 2017 bypoll to Chennai’s RK Nagar seat; the win ended AIADMK’s 16-year domination of that constituency and, more importantly, was also held by Jayalalithaa. He has now set his eye on Kovilpatti in Thoothukudi district. As with EPS and OPS’ battles, the Thevar vote will play a key role.

  5. Kamal Haasan has set himself a tough task. Deciding against contesting from a Chennai seat (where the iconic actor may have had an easier ride), the MNM (Makkal Needhi Maiam) chief will take on the BJP’s Vanathi Srinivasan and and Mayura Jayakumar of the Congress from Coimbatore (South). The BJP’s pick will be his big challenge – Ms Srinivasan is a popular local face and the party has some support in the Coimbatore and Tiruppur belt. Kamal Haasan has disdained spending money to win, but has banked on star power – his actor and niece Suhasini Maniratnam, and his daughter and actor Akshara Haasan have campaigned for him.

  6. Udhayanidhi Stalin, who is the son of DMK chief MK Stalin, makes his electoral debut this year. Already a popular face – he too is an actor – he is unlikely to have problems fighting from the Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni seat against a PMK (Pattali Makkal Katchi) candidate. Udhayanidhi’s dramatic campaign tactics included carrying a brick with ‘AIIMS’ written on it – a reference to the long-standing promise of establishing an institute in Madurai. He also took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah over the ‘dynast’ tag that they love to use.

  7. Khushbu Sundar, a hugely popular face in Tamil Nadu politics and cinema, will fight from Chennai’s Thousands Lights on a BJP ticket. The famous actor faces the DMK’s Dr Ezhilan. Khushbu quit the Congress (whom she joined from the DMK) last year after a strong letter to Sonia Gandhi, in which she said she felt “pushed and suppressed” by people who had no connection with ground reality. Part of her campaigning included stopping to make dosas at a restaurant.

  8. L Murugan, the Tamil Nadu BJP President will fight from Dharapuram in Tirupur district with the DMK’s Kayalvizhi Selvaraj likely to be his biggest opponent. The Vice President of the party’s state unit – K Annamalai, a former IPS officer from Karnataka – will contest Aravakurichi in Karur district against the DMK’s A Ilango.

  9. Seeman, the NTK (Naam Tamilar Katchi) co-ordinator is an unknown name to many, but is being tipped as a possible surprise package in this election. At the head of one the smaller parties (they will still contest all 234 seats, though), he will fight from Tiruvottiyur in North Chennai and has firmly positioned himself as against both the DMK and the AIADMK, both of whom, he says, have left Tamil nationalism by the roadside.

  10. Other big names who will be on the ballot on Tuesday are the BJP’s H Raja (from Karaikudi), former DMK leader Saravanan from Madurai (North), Premalatha – the wife of actor and DMDK (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam) chief Vijayakanth – from Virudhachalam, and Puthiya Tamilagam founder K Krishnasamy from Ottapidaram in Thoothukudi.

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