Why East Erode bypoll crucial for former TN CM Palaniswami

The February 27 bypoll to the East Erode Assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu is turning out to be crucial for AIADMK interim general secretary and former Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, popularly known as EPS.

The AIADMK is in the midst of one of its worst crises after the expulsion of the former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, popularly known as OPS, and his close associates from the party.

The AIADMK has also failed continuously in all the elections since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, including the Assembly elections and the local body polls.

With the AIADMK directly taking on the Congress supported by the DMK in East Erode, the onus is on EPS to prove a point.

The bypoll has been necessitated due to the death of Congress MLA Thirumahan Everaa on January 4. Everaa, backed by DMK, had defeated TMC’s M. Yuvaraj by 8,904 votes.

The DMK has already allocated the seat to the Congress, while the TMC has said that it wont contest the polls.

The AIADMK will have to overcome several hurdles to ensure victory for its candidate — most likely former minister K.V. Ramalingam.

The present DMK government is only two years old, and there aren’t many anti-incumbency factors against the state government. In fact, the government is popular among the public due to its several welfare schemes, including the ‘Makkale Thedi Maruthavum’ scheme which takes essential healthcare services to the doorsteps of the people.

The AIADMK is also facing problems after the expulsion of OPS and his close associates, and it needs to be seen if OPS fields a candidate in the elections.

Another factor against the AIADMK is its ‘Two Leaf’ symbol, as both EPS and OPS are fighting a case in the Supreme Court over the latter’s expulsion. At a recent communique, the Election Commission of India had addressed OPS and EPS as chief coordinator and coordinator.

For allocation of the ‘Two Leaf’ symbol to the AIADMK candidate, the signature of both EPS and OPS is required. So it needs to be seen whether Supreme Court delivers a verdict in the case before the last date of filing nominations.

If the AIADMK candidate wins the bypoll, EPS will be anointed as king in the party with no room for any dissident voice.

However, if the AIADMK candidate loses, EPS will have to bear the brunt of the loss.

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