Former TN CM, O Panneerselvam to file nomination papers as Independent candidate today

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Chennai, March 25 (IANS) Expelled AIADMK leader and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, O Panneerselvam (OPS) will file his nomination papers to the Ramanathapuram Lok Sabha seat as an Independent candidate on Monday.

OPS is in alliance with the BJP and is contesting the seat as an Independent after he lost a case filed in Madras High Court for retaining the flag and letterhead of the AIADMK.

The ousted AIADMK leader will take on sitting MP and leader of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Kani K Navas, who is part of the INDIA bloc.

AIADMK leader, P Jayaperumal is also in the fray, making it a tough three-cornered fight.

Political analyst, P Sundararajan, told IANS, “The Ramanathapuram constituency has a huge Muslim presence with around 4 lakh voters from the minority community. The BJP is not a force here and it will be very difficult for OPS to make a mark in this constituency.”

The OPS camp has been pitching for the Theni Lok Sabha seat which his son P Ravindhranath had won in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It was the only seat out of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu that was lost by the DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance (SPA) in the 2019 general elections.

O Panneerselvam is a powerful Thevar leader and the community has clout in Theni but not in Ramanathapuram. However, the BJP national leadership was keen that OPS contest from Ramanathapuram.

The former Chief Minister had asked for 16 seats but the BJP leadership allowed only one seat and forced OPS to contest from Ramanathapuram.

In the 2019 general elections, the DMK-led front’s candidate and IUML leader Navas won the Ramanathapuram seat by a margin of 1,27,122 votes, defeating his nearest rival, Nainar Nagendran of the BJP who garnered 3,42,821 votes.

In the 2019 polls, the BJP was in alliance with the AIADMK but for the 2024 elections the AIADMK has already fielded a candidate.

This will lead to a split of votes and the possibility of IUML retaining the seat is high.

A close associate of OPS told IANS, “We have an excellent base in Ramanathapuram and the continuation of the government at the Centre will be a major consideration for the voters. We have the best chance to win this election and we will work hard to wrest the seat.”

He added that a large chunk of AIADMK supporters would vote for Panneerselvam.



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