Chennai: Key leaders across various political parties — chief minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazgham (AIADMK) co-ordrinator Edappadi Palaniswami, Dravida Munnetra Kazgham president M K Stalin and actor-politician Kamal Haasan — filed their nominations on Monday from their constituencies and hit the ground to campaign for the April 6 polls.
Palaniswami filed his nomination from his hometown in Edappadi in Salem district from where he has been elected four times (1989, 1991, 2011 and 2016).
“I come twice a week to Edappadi, you can meet me anytime. Let this continue to be the chief minister’s constituency,” Palaniswami said while campaigning and urged people to vote for the party. “Give me another opportunity for the Edappadi constituency to be a role model for the rest of Tamil Nadu.”
Palaniswami continued to attack the opposition DMK of practicing family politics after Stalin’s son Udhaynidhi also filed his nomination to contest from Chennai’s Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni from where his late grandfather M Karunanidhi was elected thrice. “They are not a (political) party but a corporate company. Stalin is the boss. The board of directors are Udhaynidhi, Kanimozhi, Dayanidhi Maran, they are running a DMK company. They didn’t work for the people. That’s why they haven’t been in power for ten years,” the chief minister said.
Reacting to the chief minister’s charges Udhaynidhi said that the MLA’s post wasn’t a direct appointment but an elected one. “I’m contesting…People of Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni will decide. If they think I’m just an heir they can reject me,” Udhaynidhi told reporters after filing his nomination.
Stalin held a roadshow in Chennai to reach the returning officer’s office to file his paper nomination papers from the Kolathur constituency which was carved out in 2011 and Stalin has been elected from the seat since then. He will seek re-election for the third time as DMK’s chief ministerial candidate. Stalin, later, launched his campaign from Tiruvarur, which is his father’s native place and the last assembly constituency from where he was elected.
Leaders of other fledgling political parties who aren’t aligned with the major Dravidian parties and are likely to dent their votebank also filed their nominations.
Haasan making his political debut as chief ministerial candidate filed his nomination from Coimbatore South. His three-year-old party Makkal Needhi Maiam registered a 3.7% vote share in 2019 and has aligned with two smaller parties that walked out of the AIADMK and DMK alliances respectively. Haasan’s contender, BJP’s mahila morcha president Vanathi Srinivasan also filed her papers on Monday and is pipped to be a strong candidate though she lost in the constituency during 2016 elections.
Naam Tamizhar Katchi (NTK) founder and chief ministerial candidate S Seeman who also filed his nomination from Thiruvottiyur reiterated that he formed the party to bring in a change. “It is to upend the money and muscle power that is prevalent. Unless we stop these two (DMK and AIADMK) parties, people cannot benefit,” Seeman told reporters. NTK which registered a 4% vote share in the 2019 parliamentary polls is fielding its candidates in all the 234 assembly constituencies in the state.
Expelled AIADMK leader V K Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran too filed his nominations from Kovilpatti in Thoothukudi as the chief ministerial candidate for Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK). He expressed confidence that he would win more than one-lakh votes. AMMK is banking on the Thevar community support and has joined hands with actor-politician Vijayakanth’s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) that walked out of the AIADMK alliance last week and joined hands with Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).
As many as 854 persons including 127 aspiring women legislators have filed nominations since the process began on March 12, according to EC figures.
The last date to file nomination papers in Tamil Nadu is March 19 and the last date for candidates to withdraw their nominations is March 22. The results of the election will be declared on May 2.
(With PTI inputs)