Ex-Tamil Nadu CM Panneerselvam faces triangular contest in Ramanathapuram LS seat

Chennai, April 7 (IANS) Former Tamil Nadu chief minister O. Panneerselvam will be facing a stiff challenge in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls as he is locked in a triangular contest in the state’s Ramanathapuram Parliamentary constituency.

Panneerselvam is contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Ramanathapuram as an Independent candidate. He is being supported by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). His election symbol is ‘Jackfruit’, and in every public meeting he has been participating, he displays the symbol, and at times the jackfruit, to ensure it is etched in the minds of the voters.

Sitting MP of Ramanathapuram Lok Sabha seat, Kani K. Navas of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) is seeking re-election from the constituency.

The AIADMK, which was an alliance partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, has snapped ties with the BJP.

The AIADMK has fielded P. Jeyaperumal as its candidate for the Lok Sabha polls.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Kani K. Navas won the seat by a margin of 1,27,122 votes defeating the BJP candidate, Nainar Nagendran.

However, Panneerselvam contesting as an Independent candidate has boosted the overall pre-poll mood in the NDA camp.

OPS belongs to the influential Thevar community which has a sizeable presence in south Tamil Nadu including Ramanathapuram constituency.

AIADMK leader P. Jeyaperumal is also a popular candidate in the constituency, which makes the contest a three-cornered one.

Ramanathapuram Lok Sabha constituency has six assembly constituencies in Aranthangi, Tiruchuli, Paramakudi, Tiruvadanai, Ramanathapuram, and Mudukulathur.

While Aranthangi constituency is represented by the Congress, Tiruchuli seat is with the DMK.

Paramkudi seat is with the DMK while Tiruvadanai seat is represented by the Congress.

Mudukualathur and Ramanathapuram seats are with the DMK.

However, the BJP leadership said that elections to the Lok Sabha are entirely different from that of Assembly polls.

Senior BJP leader and former MLA H. Raja, while speaking to IANS, said: “The elections to the Lok Sabha is to decide on who rules the country and the people of Ramanathapuram knows that the NDA is supporting a top leader who is a former chief minister of Tamil Nadu.”

He also said that the DMK government of Tamil Nadu was facing anti-incumbency and that this would also reflect in the voting at Ramanathapuram.

The senior BJP leader claimed that for the development of Ramanathapuram constituency, people would vote for O. Panneerselvam.

According to political analysts, Panneerselvam’s candidature would lead to a major shift in the AIADMK vote bank as he had been the coordinator of the party before he was expelled and several local leaders of the AIADMK had an emotional connection with him.

A senior AIADMK leader on the condition of anonymity told IANS: “Panneerselvam had helped several ordinary party workers while he was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, in the capacity of an AIADMK leader. Whatever the party says, the workers will not forget him.”

K. Selvanathan, political analyst and psephologist who has been following the southern Tamil Nadu politics for a long time told IANS: “Panneerselvam is making all the difference. His candidature will lead to several AIADMK votes shifting to him. While arithmetically, the INDIA bloc candidate Kani K. Navas has the advantage. But elections always have big surprises in store and Panneerselvam would be giving a tough battle to the sitting MP as well as the AIADMK candidate.”



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