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Claimants to the throne

Claimants to   the throne
Since Jayalalithaa's untimely demise last December, the rest of the country that is usually divorced from events unfolding in the south has locked all eyes upon Tamil Nadu, vigorously tracing the trajectory of politics there that has endlessly swayed with drama, role-reversals, conviction and seat claims. With several claiming their ownership upon Jaya's monumental legacy, the RK Nagar bypoll, announced by the Election Commission in April, earlier this year, was severely anticipated as the final plug that would assure the AIADMK's swerving fate. After the E Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam factions joined hands to reclaim the name and symbol of the AIADMK, Sasikala's nephew, TTV Dinakaran, who had been appointed as the deputy general secretary of the party was sidelined by the newly rejuvenated powerhouse of the south. However, not one to step back, Dinakaran continued to make his inroads to claim Jaya's legacy, with the OPS and EPS factions not willing to step down either. The RK Nagar seat is only one among 234 constituencies in the state of Tamil Nadu, yet it has grabbed attention and shot to relevance unlike any other constituency—delineating a specific underlying condition. In 2015, the sitting MLA from RK Nagar had resigned to allow Jayalalithaa to contest the seat after she was acquitted off a disproportionate assets case. After she won the bypoll in 2016, she contested the assembly elections from this very seat and consequently, after her sudden demise, the seat was left vacant. The bypoll re-election that took place on December 21 was scheduled for much earlier. However, after the EC seized bribe money intending to sway the voters amounting to Rs 90 crore, the election was delayed as its veracity was brought under severe scrutiny. With repeated controversies and a constant attempt by all stakeholders to claim the lost throne, the RK Nagar bypoll was seen as a means for the dishevelled AIADMK, the rebelling Dinakaran and the subdued DMK to attempt to forge their rightful ownership over Jaya's tall legacy. It was no longer just a seat or simply a bypoll—its symbolic meaning was far more accentuated gaining a currency more valuable than others. As counting began on December 24 and Dinakaran took a swift lead, the AIADMK and DMK were left behind, with BJP scoring less than even NOTA—quite astounding for the ruling party that seems to have carefully caressed voters' minds across the rest of the country. An election of bribery, excessive drama and far more endowed meaning than necessary may ultimately cause more worry to the AIADMK than bringing joy to Dinakaran. It seems more than ever that Jaya's legacy will loom large and rarely find a perfect occupant.
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