Chennai, Jan 23 (PTI) It became almost clear on Monday that the BJP is likely to abstain from the election race and back the AIADMK in the February 27 Erode (East) Assembly bypoll to take on Congress candidate, E V K S Elangovan.
The AIADMK invited applications from aspirants for party tickets to contest the bypoll and Tamil Nadu BJP President K Annamalai gave ample indications of his party backing the principal opposition party's nominee.
Amid expectations that the BJP may field its candidate, AIADMK leaders and deposed party leader O Panneerselvam met Annamalai days ago for consultations and to seek the saffron party's support.
Panneerselvam, who has challenged in court his expulsion from the AIADMK and continues to claim that he is the party coordinator, spoke of even abstaining from the poll race in case the BJP opted to fight the bypoll.
Against this background, Annamalai, speaking to reporters in Tiruchirappalli, said that the AIADMK is the biggest party in the alliance, there should be no split in the anti-DMK front votes and it is important to stick to 'alliance dharma'.
Alleging that the ruling DMK would unleash its 'money power' for the bypoll, he said that the focus should be on defeating Congress candidate Elangovan and firmly backing the AIADMK-led opposition's candidate.
The AIADMK, in a party release, said applications could be submitted till January 26, beginning Monday. Whether or not Panneerselvam would field a candidate remains to be seen.
Elangovan called on DMK President and Chief Minister M K Stalin at the ruling party headquarters 'Anna Arivalayam' and he was greeted by Stalin on being nominated by the Congress to contest the Erode bypoll. Also, Elangovan visited leaders of other parties in the DMK-led alliance including Thol Thirumavalavan (Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi chief), who assured their full support to him.
Speaking to reporters, Elangovan said that while his party and allies have started campaigning, the opposition front is in disarray and they could not even decide on who should contest. He met Kamal Haasan, chief of Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), and sought his support.
Also, the Congress candidate, a former Union minister, said that he has conveyed his wish to Haasan that MNM should join the DMK-led alliance. Haasan said a decision would be taken on supporting Elangovan after discussion with office-bearers.
In the bypoll, other parties including filmmaker-turned-politician Seeman's Naam Tamizhar Katchi would be contesting. PTI VGN HDA