Following Captain Vijayakanth-led DMDK’s exit from the AIADMK alliance, and the party’s decision to join hands with T T V Dhinakaran’s AMMK, Vijayakanth’s wife Premalatha has announced her candidature from the Virudhachalam seat. In 2006, while contesting polls for the first time, Vijayakanth had won the seat.

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With the DMDK chief unable to contest polls or lead campaigns due to poor health, Virudhachalam and Panruti were the two options before Premalatha to contest polls, and she opted for the former. Her decision is said to be based on two factors. First was her familiarity with the constituency which had elected Vijayakanth in the past. In fact, Premalatha had been quite active during Vijayakanth’s campaigns in the region. According to DMDK leaders, she would participate in door-to-door campaigns and was quite familiar with the villages and community heads of the area.

Secondly, although Virudhachalam is a traditional OBC-Vanniyar bastion which largely supports the Vanniyar-based Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) party, Premalatha, who belongs to the Telugu Naidu community, is targeting the non-Vanniyar and minority votes in the region. It is also an opportunity for the DMDK to fight its rival, the PMK, a party that was blamed for their exit from the AIADMK alliance.

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While the Vanniyars constitute nearly 50% of Virudhachalam’s population, the constituency has about 30,000 Muslim votes. The AMMK alliance may also help Premalatha get the Thevar community’s support, apart from the minority votes. Vijayakanth’s son, Vijay Prabhakar, who recently declared his entry into politics will also be an important DMDK campaigner in Virudhachalam, and can help the party encash his father’s popularity.

When Vijayakanth won from Virudhachalam, his party was only six months old. With no poll victories in 2016 and 2019, winning Virudhachalam is crucial for the DMDK’s survival.

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