Ruling AIADMK led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and DMK are locked in a fierce contest in the RK Nagar Assembly constituency here, which goes to the bypoll on December 21 amid charges of cash distribution for votes.
Ruling AIADMK led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and DMK are locked in a fierce contest in the RK Nagar Assembly constituency here, which goes to the bypoll on December 21 amid charges of cash distribution for votes. As voting day nears, both AIADMK and DMK have stepped up the campaign. DMK is going all out to wrest the seat from its arch rival after over two decades, with party working chief M K Stalin addressing a series of meetings today.
Accusing the ruling AIADMK of corruption, including the ‘Gutkha scam,’ Stalin sought a decisive victory for the DMK, which, he said, would be a marker for a regime change. AIADMK is also leaving no stone unturned to retain the seat. Chief Minister Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam and Ministers are criss crossing congested lanes and by lanes to retain the seat won by Jayalalithaa last year for the second consecutive time. AIADMK is primarily seeking votes to continue the welfare schemes launched by Jayalalithaa.
Palaniswami has also urged voters to elect party nominee Madhusudhanan, assuring houses for the downtrodden.
At the same time, AIADMK sidelined group, led by T T V Dhinakaran, is trying hard to prove to his rivals in mainstream AIADMK that he is the heir to Jayalalithaa’s welfare legacy. Dhinakaran, nephew of jailed leader V K Sasikala and contesting as an independent, is campaigning with vigour. Bereft of the party flag and the popular two-leaves symbol, the pressure cooker now occupies pride of place in his campaign, with flags featuring it in the middle.
The former MP’s (both lower and upper houses) supporters use a flag with a black stripe on top, white in middle and an embossing of cooker over it and red in bottom to canvass.
BJP is also in the fray with senior State functionary Karu Nagarajan named as candidate. Women supporters of parties lining up the streets with ‘aarthi’ to welcome candidates and showering flowers on them have become a routine feature now. Madusudanan, ruling AIADMK candidate, is also banking on his popularity in North Chennai, besides his party’s strength. DMK nominee Marudu Ganesh, also a local up and coming party functionary, has accused the ruling regime of graft and assures he will address people’s issues, all of which have been left “unaddressed” by the ruling party. DMK has the advantage of support from allies, including Congress and IUML, besides friendly outfits like Left parties, MDMK and VCK who too are vigorously in the electoral field.
Stalin, meanwhile today submitted a petition to Special RK Nagar poll officer Vikram Batra alleging money distribution by the ruling AIAMDK and sidelined leader Dhinakaran’s group. Demanding appropriate action, he also wanted candidates accused of giving money not to be allowed to contest polls. Senior AIADMK leader and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai dismissed DMK’s charges as borne out of “fear of poll defeat.” Jayalalithaa won the seat by a huge margin of 1.5 lakh votes in the 2015 bypoll. She retained it by a reduced margin of about 40,000 votes last year.
From 1991 till the last year’s Assembly election, DMK has won the seat only once in 1996. In 2015, P Vetrivel (AIADMK) vacated the seat to pave the way for Jayalalithaa to contest after she was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in disproportionate assets case. AIADMK cadres here feel the absence of Jayalalithaa, noted for her engaging and interactive style of campaign. DMK workers also miss their chief Karunanidhi’s (who is not active in politics due to age related ailments) persuasive pitch in chaste Tamil to seek votes. A constituency dominated by the working classes, including fishermen, there are 2,28,234 voters in R K Nagar, of whom 1,10,903 are men, 1,17,232 women and 99 transgenders.