The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu seemed to be on course to win a comfortable number of seats from the 22 Assembly segments where bypolls were held, signalling that K Palaniswami can breathe easy and continue in the saddle for another two years.
The party was leading in 10 of the 22 seats where polling was held in two phases– on April 18 and May 19, according to the latest Election Commission data.
Though the party had nothing to boast of in the 38 Lok Sabha seats where it was leading in just two segments, it seemed to put up a better show in the 10 Assembly seats where it was leading, though the AIADMK candidates were ahead by slender margins.
The simple majority figure in the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly is 117, and the ruling party has a strength of 114, including the Speaker.
Even in the event of AIADMK retaining the 10 seats it was leading, Chief Minister Palaniswami could happily settle down and see off the rest two years in office, with the next Assembly polls scheduled in 2021.
The principal opposition DMK, along with its allies, including Congress, has 97 MLAs. Its partner IUML has one legislator.
DMK was leading in 12 of the 22 Assembly seats that witnessed bypolls.
Incidentally, two MLAs of AIADMK”s alliance parties, designated as its members in the assembly records since they contested on its symbol, have shown signs of stress with the ruling party.
Legislator S Karunaas, leader of Mukkulathor Puli Padai, has been anti-government for some time, while Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi MLA M Thamimun Ansari,a strident BJP critic, backed the DMK-led alliance in the Lok Sabha polls after the AIADMK struck a poll pact with the saffron party.
Further, three AIADMK MLAs, siding with rival leader and AMMK founder TTV Dhinakaran, had been recently served notices by Speaker P Dhanapal for alleged anti-party activities.
They have, however, asserted they were with the AIADMK only.