TN Minister and AIADMK strongman SP Velumani retains Thondamuthur

TN Minister and AIADMK strongman SP Velumani retains Thondamuthur
For the third time in a row, Tamil Nadu Minister for Municipal Administration and AIADMK strongman SP Velumani has won the Assembly elections from the Thondamuthur constituency in Coimbatore district. His victory was against DMK's Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, who rose to fame for his role in the Jallikattu protests in the state in 2017. SP Velumani won by a margin over 40,000 votes. Of the total votes polled in the constituency, 81,829 votes went to Karthikeya Sivasenapathy while 1,23,538  votes went to SP Velumani. Both their campaigns reached a fever pitch ahead of the election with cadres from the DMK and AIADMK even breaking out into a brawl on the day of the polls. AIADMK and BJP cadre allegedly surrounded Sivasenapathy's vehicle following which he had to be escorted out by the police, from a poll booth in the constituency.  The victory reiterates the sway SP Velumani has over the Thondamuthur constituency where he won in both the 2011 and 2016 Assembly elections. He is a senior leader of the AIADMK and is known to be involved in all important internal decisions taken by the party. He was also amongst the ministers who helped broker a truce between the factions under Edappadi Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam.  He was, however, bogged down by allegations of corruption during his tenure. He was allegedly awarding civic contracts to firms run by his benamis, through his control over the Chennai and Coimbatore corporations. In fact, Velumani was one among several ministers that the DMK had trained its guns at ahead of the elections, as it hoped to breach the AIADMK stronghold in western Tamil Nadu.  Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, meanwhile, joined the DMK only in November 2020 following a meeting with party president MK Stalin. Following this, he had stated that his aim was to spread word of the DMK's work in the Tamil Nadu’s western belt, which is considered to be an AIADMK stronghold. He is also DMK’s Environment Secretary.  He shot to fame during the Marina jallikattu protests in 2017 and was amongst the people responsible for organising the protests which ended in an ordinance passed by the state government, allowing the sport.      

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