In Tamil Nadu, OPS confronts the toughest battle of his political career

In Tamil Nadu, OPS confronts the toughest battle of his political career
O Panneerselvam during the campaign at West Mambalam in ChennaiBCCL
O Panneerselvam and Thanga Tamilselvan are fighting each other fiercely for Bodinayakanur seat, right now. As of 11.35 a.m. Panneerselvam is trailing slightly behind Tamilselvan, but the margin is just around 100 votes.

Known popularly as OPS, O Panneerselvam, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (AIADMK) joint coordinator and the deputy chief minister of the state is among the key contenders in the 2021 assembly elections.

He is contesting from the Bodinayakanur seat in Theni district. Since 2001, Panneerselvam has been representing this assembly seat. This constituency made him the legislator twice -- in 2011 and 2016 -- and this is the third election he is facing from this base.

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His main opposition Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has fielded Thanga Tamilselvan from Bodinayakanur, which is viewed as one of the cleverest strategies DMK has implemented in 2021 elections to destabilise AIADMK. The political battle of the duo here has made the election scene one of the most interesting episodes.

Why DMK picked up Thanga Tamilselvan



For quite long, Thanga Tamilselvan had been journeying with the AIADMK. Earlier, when J Jayalalithaa decided to move to Srirangam constituency, she chose Thanga Tamilselvan to represent Andipatti. Despite travelling together and enjoying the confidence of former chief minister late J.Jayalalithaa, Thanga Tamilselvan and OPS had always been at loggerheads.

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Thanga Tamilselvan was the member of the legislative assembly (MLA) from Andipatti. When he showed his allegiance to Amma Makkal Munnettra Kazagam (AMMK), his party disqualified him. His experience in AMMK turned out to be, nonetheless, not so palatable for him. Disappointed with AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran’s moves and approaches, he left AMMK and joined DMK. Initially, he was inducted into the team of speakers and later became the district secretary with the DMK.

While contesting for DMK this time, Thanga Tamilselvan, in fact, opted for the Andipatti seat. The party head however assigned him Bodinayakanur, as it saw him as the fittest candidate to oppose OPS in his stronghold.

Challenges in front of OPS



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Over the past few years, the Thevar community found reasons to get disappointed with OPS as he handed over the power and position to Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister E Palaniswami or popularly known as EPS.

The third backlash was the announcement of 10.5% of internal quota for the Vanniyar community that has displeased Mukkulathors.

Unable to withstand the tough war waged by DMK this time, AIADMK has been trying to woo the voters in several ways by stretching far beyond the threshold. On the other hand, Thanga Tamilselvan has been meeting the different community heads in the constituency, personally, seeking their support to his candidature.

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The war field is highly challenging for OPS due to the stiff opposition presented by Thanga Tamilselvan, the growing displeasure among different communities and the entry of AMMK which could split the vote percentage weakening AIADMK’s vote bank.

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