After a neck-and-neck fight with the ruling AIADMK throughout the day, DMK candidate DM Kathir Anand on Friday won the Vellore Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu by a margin of over 8,000 votes, according to data released by the Election Commission of India. Right from start of the counting this morning, though the AIADMK was ahead in the race, the DMK closed the gap steadily later in the day.
Kathir was pitted against AIADMK candidate AC Shanmugam, who is also the chief of Puthiya Neethi Katchi (PNK), an ally of the ruling dispensation in Tamil Nadu. While Kathir bagged a total of 4,85,340 votes, Shanmugam polled 4,77,199 votes. The vote shares of the DMK and AIADMK candidate were 47.3 per cent and 46.51 per cent respectively.
Reacting to his victory, Kathir said, "This victory is due to our hard work. I will dedicate this victory to our leader". Alleging that the DMK has spent crores of rupees to bag the seat, AIADMK leader D Jayakumar said in the next elections they will win and come back to the power.
Meanwhile, DMK workers have alreday broken into celebration at the party headquarters Anna Arivalayam in Chennai. Distribution of sweets, bursting of crackers and dancing marked the DMK's victory in Vellore and other parts of Tamil Nadu.
Carrying party flags, DMK workers lined up at the residence of party chief MK Stalin, who termed the victory "exceptional and unparallelled". With this win, the DMK’s tally in Lok Sabha has now gone up to 24 and that of the alliance led by it to 38.
The poll to the Vellore Lok Sabha seat, originally scheduled to be held in April 18 along with 38 other constituencies in Tamil Nadu, was cancelled after Income Tax officials seized money allegedly meant to bribe voters.
Fresh polling was held on August 5 in the Vellore Lok Sabha seat, which had 14.32 lakh eligible voters spread in six Assembly segments. The constituency witnessed an impressive voter turnout of 71.51 per cent during the polling.
The EVMs, the control units and Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), which were moved to Ranipet Engineering college premises following polls, were taken up for counting a tight security environment which includes deployment of 70 CCTV cameras on the college premises, 35 km from the constituency.
Meanwhile, DMK's victory in the crucial Vellore Lok Sabha seat could be perceived as a verdict against the ruling party, with the state poised to face the general elections in 2021 at the end of the current term. Ahead of the bypoll both Chief Minister K Palaniswami and DMK chief MK Stalin had embarked on a hectic campaign schedule, fighting hard to reaffirm their respective parties' dominance.
Earlier, the DMK-led alliance had swept the April 18 Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu, winning 37 constituencies in the state and the lone segment in the neighbouring Puducherry.
(With inputs from agencies)