The Assembly election in Vellore, scheduled for August 5, after the original one having been cancelled due to huge amounts of money being found in places linked to the DMK candidate, has both the DMK and the AIADMK pulling out all the stops to secure victory.

The AIADMK, which is now looking to grow out of the BJP cocoon, is treating this as a major battle. Chief minister Edappadi Planiswamy, who has plenty at stake, is taking it as his own challenge (especially since his deputy O Panneerselvam seems to have struck some kind of personal deal with the BJP).

The DMK, too, is keen to continue its winning streak it established in the general election, winning a spectacular 37 out of the 38 seats that went to the polls. The DMK wants to send out a message to the BJP that it would keep it at bay in the State.

The DMK campaign is, not surprisingly, headlined by MK Stalin. He has been touring the constituency extensively. But the DMK's electioneering strategy in Vellore has also set tongues wagging.

The DMK has rushed all its mainline leaders to Vellore in support of its candidate Kathir Anand, the son of party treasurer Durai Murugan. All its former ministers, its leader in parliament TR Baalu have all toured the constituency seeking votes for Kathir Anand.

But conspicuous by her absence is Kanimozhi, the recent winning MP from Thoothukudi and the daughter of M Karunanidhi.

After Stalin, Kanimozhi's is perhaps the most visible face of the DMK in the state. And since she is a well-known speaker and has established herself as a parliamentarian too, one would have thought that Kanimozhi would be fielded to bolster the campaign.

As it happens, she is not to be seen in Vellore, and party sources indicate that she is held up in Delhi as Parliament session has been extended.

This looks like a weak excuse especially in the background of TR Baalu being seen in the campaign.

Rumour has it that Kanimozhi had talked tough on the NIA Amendment Bill. But the DMK voted in favour of the Bill. Vellore’s sizable population of Muslim voters are not enamoured by the DMK's double-dealing on the matter. They, it is said, were particularly unhappy with Kanimozhi who didn't walk her talk, as it were. In the event, the DMK felt that it would not be prudent to get Kanimozhi for the campaign.     

But if you believe in conspiracy theories then there is another story doing the rounds. And it suggests typical power struggle within Karunanidhi's family. Stalin, it is being claimed, is not too keen to provide space to his half-sister Kanimozhi.

Stalin's son Udhayanidhi, a political novice but recently appointed to head the party's youth wing, has however been in the thick of the campaign, and his pictures have been given prominence in the party mouthpiece.

Stalin is keeping out Kanimozhi lest she becomes a threat to his own son's rise in the party is the gist of the fevered speculation. Of course, it is a rumour, and nothing can be confirmed yet on the matter. But truth be told, the relationship between Stalin and Kanimozhi even in the best of times, when their dad Karunanidhi was alive, used to be uneasy.

Meanwhile, with the local press also highlighting Kanimozhi's absence from the scene, some leaders have reportedly told Stalin to get her for at least a day of campaigning. But he seems reluctant.

The interesting family battle in the DMK adds an extra zing to the election in Vellore.