Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M K Stalin will seek a third term from his Kolathur constituency in Chennai for the April 6 assembly elections while son Udhayanidhi will make his electoral debut this time, as the opposition party is pitted in a direct fight with arch-rival All India Anna DMK in over a 100 seats.
Nearly half of the 173 nominees were sitting MLAs representing various constituencies, according to the list released by Stalin at a press conference at the DMK headquarters Anna Arivalayam in Chennai, on the day the nomination process started.
Udhayanidhi will fight from the Chepauk-Triplicane constituency, represented by the late J Anbazhagan who succumbed to Covid-19 last year.
Udhayanidhi, an actor-producer, is a third generation politician from the DMK's first family, following the footsteps of his late grandfather and former DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi and father Stalin.
Stalin retained 79 sitting MLAs including seniors Durai Murugan, K N Nehru, K Ponmudi, MRK Panneerselvam, P Geetha Jeevan and Poongothai Aladi Aruna -- all former ministers -- besides legislators such as TRB Raja, Anitha Radhakrishnan, S R Raja, M Subramanian and R Sakkarapani.
Stalin said he will file the nomination on March 15 and embark on the next leg of the campaign.
Since many of the parties including the Vaiko-led Marumalarchi DMK will be contesting on the DMK's Rising Sun symbol, the lead partner will be effectively in fray in 187 seats, he added.
DMK has allotted 61 seats to allies, with the Congress taking the lion's share of 25.
The DMK, out of power since 2011, is eyeing a comeback by dethroning the ruling AIADMK and has stitched up a rainbow coalition comprising the Congress, the Left, MDMK, Vidhthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi and other smaller outfits, apportioning them a total of 61 of the 234 seats at stake.
The party will lock horns in what promises to be an intense political battle with the AIADMK in 122 seats, including that of Chief Minister K Palaniswami's Edappadi and his deputy O Panneerselvam's Bodinayakkanur constituencies.
While a relatively lesser known T Sampathkumar will take on the chief minister on his home turf, popular local leader and former AIADMK MLA Thanga Tamilselvan will challenge Panneerselvam, who incidentally filed his nomination on Friday.
Tamilselvan was one of the 18 AIADMK MLAs disqualified earlier for siding with AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran before he joined the Stalin-led dispensation.
He had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Theni on an Amma Makkal Munnetra Katchi ticket but lost to Panneerselvam's son OP Ravindranath.
Exuding confidence over a successful show at the hustings, Stalin said the list released by him on Friday was not merely that of candidates but a "success list."
"It should be presumed that Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) is contesting," he said about the polls that would be the first full assembly elections to be held in the absence of both Karunanidhi and his rival, the late CM J Jayalalithaa.
Bypolls to 22 assembly seats had been held in 2019 where the AIADMK won nine to retain power, while DMK won the rest.
Stalin said his party-led Secular Progressive Alliance was not a mere political one but was based on principles and said that the seats for all the constituents were decided on the base of "that friendship."
"The DMK is facing the polls with great confidence as it wants to provide a new dawn to Tamil Nadu which is suffering badly in the last 10 years (of AIADMK rule)," he said.