Chennai: AIADMK MLA R Kanagaraj from Sulur Assembly constituency passed away early Thursday morning. He was 66.

The MLA was at his residence, reading the newspaper when he suffered a heart attack.

Kanagaraj was elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 2016 from Sulur in Coimbatore district and had no criminal cases against him.

With the passing away of the MLA, the number of seats vacant in the Tamil Nadu Assembly has increased to 22.

The by-election to Tiruvarur seat was necessitated by the death of sitting member and former Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M Karunanidhi last year.

After the conviction of K Balakrishna Reddy in a criminal case, the Hosur seat fell vacant.

The other constituencies fell vacant after 18 MLAs were disqualified by the speaker when they switched camps and decided to go against the ruling faction.

AIADMK's current strength, including Kanagaraj, in the Assembly was 114, excluding the Speaker. Even though this looks like a comfortable majority in the present house strength of 213 as the halfway mark is 107, things may change if the by-elections are held and 22 vacancies are filled.

The AIADMK will need a minimum of three more numbers to reach the halfway mark of 117 in the house with its full strength of 234. The Speaker can vote in case of a tie.

But chances seem bleak as three AIADMK MLAs; E A Rathinasabapathi (Aranthangi constituency), A Prabu (Kallakuruchi) and VT Kalaiselvan (Virudhachalam), have openly expressed support to Dhinakaran.

Two other allies, Thamimun Ansari (Manithaneya Jananayaka Katchi) and Karunaas (Mukkulathor Pulipadai), who have contested with the AIADMK symbol, now stand in opposition of the AIADMK after it’s alliance with the BJP for Lok Sabha polls.

Tamil Nadu will go to polls on April 18. 97 constituencies across 13 states will go to polls on the same day. 

Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Dadra & Nagaar Haveli, Daman & Diu will all go to polls on April 18.

Also read: AIADMK MLA Kanagaraj slams DMDK leader Premalatha