Vishal & Deepa Small Fry in RK Nagar, But Foul Play Still Possible
The RK Nagar seat has been vacant since the demise of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa last year.
The RK Nagar seat has been vacant since the demise of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa last year.(Photo: Rhythum Seth/The Quint)

Vishal & Deepa Small Fry in RK Nagar, But Foul Play Still Possible

The bypolls in RK Nagar could have been a multi-cornered battle with contestants other than the two Dravidian parties – AIADMK and DMK – competing against each other. But that was not meant to be.

On 5 December, the Election Commission rejected the nomination forms of both Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa and actor Vishal. The blame game has already begun, and allegations are being thrown around.

But First Came the Flip-Flop on Vishal’s Nomination...

The Election Commission announced that Vishal’s nomination had been rejected because two of the proposers claimed that their signatures were forged on the form. The Tamil actor produced an audio recording as evidence to prove that the proposers were threatened and bribed by E Madhusudhanan, belonging to the EPS-OPS faction of the AIADMK party.

Also Read: RK Nagar Bypoll: Vishal’s Audio Clip Claims Misdeeds in Nomination

After playing the audio to the officer, Vishal told that he had been given oral confirmation that his form had been accepted.

I filed nomination to do good for the people. But never did I imagine it will be so difficult to do good. But justice will prevail. When the returning officer has accepted my nomination, how can you say that is not official?
Actor Vishal to Puthiya Thalaimurai

However, the returning officer issued an official statement that Vishal’s nomination papers had come under scrutiny after objections were raised over the ingenuity of the proposers.

Also Read: Vishal Appeals To PM Modi, Prez Kovind Over RK Nagar Nomination

Rejection Isn’t the End of the Road

Political analysts say Vishal need not take this lying down. The Election Commission has brought the veracity of the audio under the scanner, but experts believe the possible interference of rival politicians cannot be ruled out . Vishal needs to factor in the strength and network of these parties, they add.

The RK Nagar bypolls had been cancelled a few months back after widespread exchange of cash for votes was recorded.

Vishal has the option of approaching the High Court, and questioning the alleged threats issued by the AIADMK party. But experts ask, is he confident that these proposers won’t backstab and point fingers at him instead? That’s a risk he needs to carefully evaluate and proceed, they add.

Vishal’s recent tweet about the two proposers not being traceable is muddying the waters.

Also Read: Kejriwal and Tamil Star Vishal: A Blooming Delhi-Chennai Alliance

Analysts concede that he isn’t a strong contender, but the Dravidian parties might simply want to wipe out their competition and so foul play is a credible possibility.

Vishal is not a big player. It hardly matters. He won’t even be able to save the deposit.
S Murari, Political Analyst

When the Election Commission was asked to clarify, they clearly spelt out that so far only one official record has been filed and based on that, the nomination stands rejected.

An AIADMK top leader brushed aside all allegations as false.

Does Jayalalithaa Lookalike Deepa Stand a Chance?

Deepa Jayakumar’s political ambitions were dashed when the Election Commission rejected her nomination papers on the grounds of an incomplete affidavit.

Her form is bizarre. How could you submit without filling out so many details? Unless of course it was planned, and she didn’t want to contest and wanted an excuse. She has mentioned her husband’s PAN card and not any other details... mentioned her house as property and put market value as nil. How can that be?
Sumanth Raman, Political Analyst

However, Deepa told The News Minute that it was a clear case of political vengeance because the AIADMK was afraid of her victory.

The suitable person to take her [Jayalalithaa’s] place would be myself, so on that basis people would vote for me, they are sure about that. AIADMK wants to get rid of candidates who can fetch votes.
Deepa Jayakumar to TNM

Who Stands to Win?

When The Quint spoke to popular political analysts in the state, they said the real game, though, lies with the DMK candidate Marudhu Ganesh, AIADMK’S Madhusudhanan and the sidelined TTV Dhinakaran.

They explain what makes RK Nagar a crucial constituency – one, it is the first bypolls since the death of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, and two, it was her constituency where she won two times in a row, and three, this is a chance for the AIADMK factions to prove to the public who is worthy of being Amma’s successor.

Murari feels the stakes are much higher this time for the Sasikala faction. He recalls the last time when the election was cancelled due to malpractice and said it was right to do so then, as Dhinakaran had gone all out to take over from the puppet CM Edapadi Palanisami and under his regime there was no way to impose strict observance of rules.

But now, with the case of 18 disqualified MLAs supporting Dhinakaran still waiting at the High Court and not many MLAs and Ministers jumping to his ship, he should be worried. Many experts even believe that him contesting is a bad decision.

For Dhinakaran, it is a question of survival. If he doesn’t manage to get a sizeable number of AIADMK votes, he will become irrelevant.
S Murari, Political Analyst

Considering the absolute political chaos within the ruling party, experts believe it would be disappointing if DMK’s Stalin doesn’t capitalise on this and lead his party to victory.

Analyst Raman’s calculations read that the OPS-EPS faction would bag the majority’s support but it’s the DMK who could emerge victorious.

I feel DMK has the edge because of the split in the AIADMK vote with some going to TTV Dhinakaran. Also, there is anti-incumbency and no leadership.
Sumanth Raman

There is one more roadblock. The verdict of the 2G scam involving the opposition party members will be read on 21 November, 2017 – the same day as the voting at the RK Nagar constituency.

Now, won’t that influence the voters’ decision?

Let us not forget that during the last two times when Jayalalithaa won the seat, she had been slapped with corruption charges and conviction, but that didn’t deflate her esteem among the public. But this time, the contenders aren’t stalwarts like her or DMK’s Karunanidhi, so the opposition has to be wary.

Analyst Raman adds, though,  that “Honestly these elections aren’t going to change much. Even if DMK wins, it is not going to change the government, and if the AIADMK does, nothing drastic will change. It is basically to keep the pot boiling.”