Tamil Nadu: Palaniswami, Stalin escalate poll battle ahead of Oct 21 by-elections

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami (L), DMK chief M K Stalin.

The battle between the AIADMK and opposition DMK is heating up in the run-up to the Nanguneri and Vikravandi Assembly bypolls on October 21 with Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami and DMK chief M K Stalin taking control of the election campaign.

While DMK and AIADMK are in the race in Vikravandi, where a bypoll was necessitated following the death of DMK MLA K Radhamani, the Congress in alliance with DMK is contesting against AIADMK in Nanguneri near Kanyakumari, where the seat fell vacant after Congress MLA H Vasanthakumar was elected as MP in the Lok Sabha polls.

The campaign has gained momentum in the last two days with Palaniswami and Stalin making wild allegations. While Stalin has called the Palaniswami government a benami of the BJP-led Central government, he has been accused of possessing a Swiss bank account by the Chief Minister.

Addressing a rally for AIADMK's Nanguneri candidate V Narayanan, Palaniswami said the AIADMK government is not a "benami" to the BJP-led Central government and that his government will oppose the Centre's anti-Tamil projects. He said the AIADMK respected sentiments of Muslims and his party MPs had opposed the instant triple talaq Bill, but his government will continue to support pro-people policies of the Centre as well.

Stalin on the other hand has challenged Palaniswami to prove his allegation of the DMK leader possessing a Swiss bank account. "If CM can prove that me or my party leaders have Swiss bank accounts, I will resign from my post. But otherwise, he should resign and leave Tamil Nadu," Stalin said during his rally for Congress candidate ‘Ruby' R Manoharan.

Both the AIADMK and DMK are also eyeing Dalit votes in the largely agrarian constituency of Vikravandi where the DMK has fielded N Pugazhenthi while M R Muthamizhselvan is contesting on AIADMK ticket. It is here that AIADMK ally PMK, which has a sizeable vote share among the Vanniyar community, is playing a key role. When Stalin promised a quote for Vanniyars in government jobs and college admissions, besides construction of a memorial to honour a leader of the community, PMK founder S Ramadoss accused DMK of using his community votes as curry leaves and turning a blind eye after elections.