R.K. Nagar bypoll: Tamil actor Vishal and Jayalalithaa’s niece file nomination papers
Bengaluru: Popular Tamil cinema actor Vishal and late Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar were among scores of aspirants who filed nominations for the Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar (R.K. Nagar) bypoll on Monday.
The R.K. Nagar constituency, which was represented by Jayalalithaa, fell vacant upon her death on 5 December last year. The seat became a battleground with party factions staking claim to the legacy of Jayalalithaa, whose passing left a vacuum in the state marked by a split within the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) into factions led by T.T.V. Dhinakaran and chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam.
The Palaniswami and Panneerselvam camps later reunited, leaving Dhinakaran and his aunt V.K.Sasikala—currently serving a four-year sentence in Bengaluru central jail—fighting to regain control over the party and government.
Shortly after Vishal filed his nomination, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to congratulate the actor, stating that his decision would inspire many youngsters and even asked to meet with him.
“The change is inevitable & more youngsters must join Politics to make our Country a global powerhouse. #YoungstersAreTheFuture,” Vishal, who filed his nomination as an independent candidate, replied to Kejriwal.
The bypoll was earlier scheduled for 12 April but was cancelled by the Election Commission after it received complaints of distribution of cash and gifts for votes.
“People see a vacuum, a lack of a strong leader especially after she (Amma) is gone. People are probably thinking that here is an opportunity for us to try and fill the vacuum so each one is trying to do that. That’s the reason so many people are wanting to throw their hat into the ring,” Sumanth Raman, a Tamil Nadu-based political analyst, said on Monday.
The Dhinakaran faction, with about 12 MLAs (members of legislative assembly) faced another setback on Monday after the Delhi high court dismissed its plea for using the ‘hat’ symbol in the R.K. Nagar bypoll to be held on 21 December.
The faction lost out on AIADMK’s “two leaves” symbol after the Election Commission alloted it to the Palaniswami and Panneerselvam camp after a bitter political and legal struggle.
Vishal paid his respects to former chief ministers and visited Jayalalithaa’s memorial before he filed his nomination. He joins a long list of film actors in the state, including M. Karunanidhi, M.G. Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa, who made the switch to politics.
The ruling AIADMK has fielded senior leader E. Madhusudhanan as its candidate from R.K. Nagar. Dinakaran is contesting on behalf of the rebel faction while the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is fielding N. Marudu Ganesh.
Raman said the DMK could be a hot favourite as there was anti-incumbency due to the lack of strong leadership after Jayalalithaa’s death.
“Vishal may split some of the votes and some of the anti-establishment votes also he may take, votes that otherwise may have gone to the DMK,” he said.
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