Polling for the 234-seat strong Tamil Nadu Assembly is scheduled to be held in a single phase on Tuesday, April 6. The votes will be counted on May 2. While Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Congress will contest the election together, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) are set to be a challenge for them.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami-led AIADMK is currently in power with 135 seats while MK Stalin-backed DMK is the main Opposition party with 88 seats. 118 is the magic number a party or coalition has to gain in order to form a government in the state.
A total of 173 candidates are running on AIADMK’S ticket while 20 on BJP’s. DMK and Congress will fight for 173 and 25 seats in the polls, respectively.
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) comprises DMK, Congress, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)), Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Indian Union Muslim League(IUML), Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) and a few smaller parties.
Also read: DMK will stand against CAA until it is scrapped, says party chief Stalin
Meanwhile, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) consists of AIADMK, BJP and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK).
Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and TTV Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) have also joined hands.
With former chief ministers J Jayalalithaa (AIADMK) and M Karunanidhi (DMK) gone, star power is a bit faded this election. After serving a four-year jail term on corruption charges, Jayalalithaa’s long-time aide VK Sasikala had announced on March 3 that she would quit politics and public life.
Also read: Stalin-led DMK now faces an uphill task because Sasikala won’t play spoilsport for AIADMK?
‘Thalaiva’ Rajnikanth, too, stepped back from entering the electoral fray with a tweet on December 29, days after announcing that he’d launch a political party. But 66-year-old South superstar Kamal Haasan, who founded Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) in February 2018, will contest the election from Coimbatore south.
What opinion polls say
According to the Times Now C-Voter poll, UPA is likely to sweep the election with 177 seats, much higher than what it managed to get in 2016. NDA could win 47 constituencies, as per the opinion poll. Parties like MNM, AMMK and AIMIM can emerge as dark horses.
The poll says that 43.1% of people in its survey voted for MK Stalin to be the next chief minister while 29.7% voted for the current chief minister Palaniswami.
Battlegrounds and key contestants
Kolathur- MK Stalin (DMK)
Stalin, Karunanidhi’s son, is seeking a re-election from Kolathur. He has been representing the constituency since 2011. If DMK wins the election, Stalin will become chief minister of Tamil Nadu for the first time.
Edappadi- Edappadi K Palaniswami (AIADMK)
Palaniswami, who took over as the CM after the death of Jayalalithaa in 2016, is seeking a re-election from Edappadi. He has not only carved out a political space for himself but has revived the electoral fortunes of the ruling AIADMK.
Kovilpatti- TTV Dhinakaran (AMMK), K Raju (AIADMK)
Sasikala’s nephew Dhinakaran will contest against local AIADMK strongman and Cabinet Minister K Raju in the Kovilpatti constituency.
Bodinayakannur- O Panneerselvam (AIADMK)
Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and joint co-ordinator of AIADMK has never lost this seat since 2001. He is expected to win this constituency by a large margin again.
Chepauk-Tiruvallikeni- Udhayanidhi Stalin (DMK)
Actor-producer Udhayanidhi will be following the footsteps of his father MK Stalin and grandfather Karunanidhi at his electoral debut in Chepauk-Tiruvallikeni. The constituency was earlier represented by Karunanidhi and has favoured DMK for a long time.
Coimbatore (South)- Kamal Haasan (MNM), Vanathi Srinivasan (DMK)
Kamal Haasan is all set to make his electoral debut from Coimbatore South, a constituency he says “has become a fort of corruption”. He is pitted against BJP Women’s Wing chief Vanathi Srinivasan, who is a lawyer by training.
Thousand Lights- Dr Ezhilan (DMK), Khushbu Sundar (BJP)
Karunanidhi’s physician and DMK leader Dr Ezhilan will contest from Thousand Lights, a constituency that has elected Stalin four times. Former actor and Congress spokesperson Khushbu Sundar will contest from the same constituency on BJP’s ticket.
Also read: ‘Proud to be contesting in the election as a transgender’: Bharathi Kannama
How many and who are eligible to vote:
According to the Election Commission of India, there are 6.26 crore electors in the state, including 3.18 crore women, 3.08 crore men and over 7,200 persons from the third gender.
In 2016, Tamil Nadu recorded 74.26% polling, according to the Election Commission. As many as 4.28 crore voters cast their votes in 232 of the total 234 constituencies in the state.