The Madras High Court has held that TTV Dhinakran's victory in the RK Nagar Assembly byelection held last year was legal and that no evidence of malpractices or bribery was detected.
The verdict comes as a big breather for Dhinakaran, less than a week after the high court had returned a split verdict regarding the disqualification of 18 MLAs who owe him allegiance.
It's also a critical verdict because the RK Nagar bypoll was fraught with allegations of impropriety, and Opposition camps were accusing each other of bribing voters.
In fact, Election Commission had even cancelled the polling once after saying there was evidence pointing towards large-scale bribery at play. The high court's Wednesday verdict clearing Dhinakaran's name and holding that his victory was clean would refute several of these charges.
Dhinakaran, the nephew of VK Sasikala, a close aide of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, is the lone Independent MLA in the 234-member House. He was expelled from the party by chief minister K Palaniswami, following which 18 MLAs who owe their allegiance to him also quit the party.
The high court's verdict, in that case, will pave the way for a decision on whether there would be further byelections to these seats or not.
Allegations of bribery and poll rigging, however, are unlikely to disappear. Even after Dhinakaran had secured victory, he is unable to stop the flow of allegations from his many rivals in Tamil Nadu's congested political scene.
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan too has spoken out against Dhinakaran, saying money power was behind the victory. "RK Nagar bypoll is a big stain on Tamil Nadu politics; it is a big stain on Indian democracy. I won't call this purchased win even a scam.... this is a daylight crime," Haasan had alleged earlier this year.