In a morale booster after the Lok Sabha poll drubbing months ago, the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu on Thursday wrested two assembly seats from arch-rival DMK and its ally Congress in keenly watched byelections with Chief Minister K Palaniswami hailing it as a victory for 'truth'.
AIADMK won by impressive margins in Vikravandi and Nanguneri constituencies, in north and south Tamil Nadu respectively which went to the bypoll on October 21. The victory is considered significant for the AIADMK as it had suffered a humiliating drubbing from principal opposition DMK-led front in the April Lok Sabha polls, managing to win only a lone seat out of the 38.
In the poll held to Vellore Lok Sabha seat in August, it had lost to DMK. The votes polled in the October 21 bypolls were taken up for counting at 8 AM Thursday and the AIADMK nominees led from the first round in both the seats. They won by a margin of 44,924 and 33,445 votes in Vikravandi and Nanguneri constituencies respectively, according to the results declared by the Election Commission.
In Vikravandi, ruling party nominee R Muthamilselvan polled an impressive 1,13,766 votes with a 60.29 per cent vote share as against his DMK rival N Pugazhenthi who bagged 68,842 votes (36.48 per cent). In Nanguneri, AIADMK's Reddiyarpatti V Narayanan registered 95,377 votes (55.88) per cent while DMK backed rival Congress party candidate 'Ruby' R Manoharan could manage 61,932 votes (36.29) per cent.
In April, the DMK and its allies had won 38 of 39 Lok Sabha seats while the AIADMK managed to win the lone Theni seat. Adding to its woes, the ruling party then could win only nine of the 22 assembly constituencies that went for bypolls with the DMK bagging 13. With the impressive win in the latest bypoll, a jubilant Palaniswami said it is a victory for truth and an endorsement of his government's initiatives. AIADMK top duo K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam thanked voters for electing party nominees besides party workers and allies.
The victory showed the party's symbol Two Leaves had people's "affection", they said. "In a democracy, an electoral success is a certificate of endorsement given by the people. We will do our best to make Tamil Nadu the best even while making no compromise with our ideals and ensure that the rights of the state are upheld," the two leaders said in a joint statement. The outcome of the bypoll was a victory for party stalwarts, late chief ministers MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa, they said. Accepting the defeat, DMK president M K Stalin said,"We bow and accept the people's verdict."
Learning from lessons of the past, our party will conquer the future, he said. "While thanking those who voted for us, we will also strive to earn the trust of people who forgot us," the DMK chief said. Vikravandi constituency had clocked 84.36 per cent voting while Nanguneri 66.10 per cent. As many as 23 candidates were in the fray in Nanguneri, which has 2.57 lakh voters and Vikravandi with 2.23 lakh electors had 12 nominees who tried their luck. Bypoll to Nanguneri in Tirunelveli district was necessitated after Congress' H Vasanthakumar resigned his assembly membership hollowing his election to the Lok Sabha.
The Vikravandi constituency in Villupuram district was won by DMK's K Rathamani in 2016 Assembly polls who died in June this year. In both the seats, actor-turned politician Seeman's Naam Tamilar Katchi finished third and lost deposit as it polled less than 4,000 votes.