Chennai: Sidelined AIADMK leader and independent candidate for the RK Nagar bypoll T.T.V. Dhinakaran on Sunday took a virtually unassailable lead of over 35,000 votes against his AIADMK rival E.Madhusudhanan at the end of 16 rounds of counting.

The margin of 35,175 votes between the two candidates took Dhinakaran closer to victory, brightening his prospects of making his debut in the Tamil Nadu assembly.

At the end of the 16th round of counting, Dhinakaran bagged 76,701 votes out of the 1,53,201 valid votes so far, while AIADMK veteran Madhusudhanan got 41,526.

DMK’s N.Maruthuganesh got 21,827 votes, leaving him a distant third among the 59 candidates. Incidentally, NOTA (None of The Above) pipped BJP candidate Karu Nagarajan, as 2,203 voters preferred it to the saffron party’s candidate who only received 1,236 votes.