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Two film stars and one woman leader from Tamil Nadu are likely to find place in the Rajya Sabha when six incumbent members of the state give up their seats at the end of their terms this August.
Filing of nominations closed in Chennai Friday with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)-led front fielding five candidates and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) nominating one. Elections are due on July 23.
The Election Commission has asked Mrityunjay Sarangi, the official who conducted elections to the Assembly in Tamil Nadu in May, to be the presiding officer for the Rajya Sabha elections though this is not the usual practice. It is the Assembly speaker who generally presides over these polls. The Legislative Assembly elects the Rajya Sabha members.
The AIADMK, which rules Tamil Nadu, has made four nominations for the Rajya Sabha election. Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalitha nominated party general council member P.G. Narayanan, Thiruvallur district secretary R. Kamaraj, Sivaganga women's wing secretary Gokula Indira and comic film actor S.S. Chandran, who has been a staunch supporter of the party for a long time. Indira is likely to become the first woman sent to the Rajya Sabha by the AIADMK.
The DMK-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Tamil Nadu, which has the support of 28 Assembly members, has chosen actor Sarath Kumar as its candidate. He will replace incumbent V.K. Duraisamy. The DMK shifted its focus to Sarath Kumar in 1998 when Tamil superstar Rajnikanth shied away from publicly appearing in its campaigns and preferred to remain noncommittal on his political affiliations.
Sarath Kumar was last year chosen by the DMK-affiliated Sun network's television channels to host the TV game show Koteeswaran, on the lines of Amitabh Bachchan's popular Kaun Banega Crorepati.
When Sarath Kumar joined the DMK in 1998, then chief minister and DMK president Muthuvel Karunanidhi not only called him a "supreme star" on a public platform but also nominated him for the Tirunelveli seat in the Lok Sabha elections that year. The actor, however, lost.
Sarath Kumar and his wife Radhika, actress "Chitthi (aunty)" to Tamil television viewers and owner of Radaan Pictures that produces most of the serials appearing on Sun TV, have been loyal DMK members and campaigned for the party during the recent Assembly elections.
After Karunanidhi was arrested last month for alleged corruption, they appeared on Sun TV and other channels with tears in their eyes, appealing to people to protest the "police atrocities". "If opportunity comes for me to speak in Parliament, my maiden speech could be on the imposition of Article 356 (provision for President's rule) in Tamil Nadu," Sarath Kumar has promised.
AIADMK's ally Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), with 22 Assembly members, has fielded party spokesperson B. Ganadesikan for the Rajya Sabha elections. He will replace Jayanthi Natarajan. TMC chief G.K. Moopanar named Ganadesikan over Natarajan despite pressure from the women's wing to renominate the incumbent. He also overruled the demand of 20 party legislators to nominate his son G.K. Govindavasa.