It will be a battle between two friends in the Union Territory of Puducherry where Union Minister of State and Congress General Secretary V Narayanasamy is taking on his college mate and Pattali Makkal Katchi nominee M Ramadoss in the May 13 Lok Sabha polls.
The two, who had shared a close friendship while studying in the Government Tagore Arts College in Puducherry in the 1960s, have turned rivals with the PMK dumping the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-Congress-led Democratic Progressive Alliance and joining the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led front for the polls.
Ramadoss had won the seat in 2004 when the PMK was allotted the seat as part of the then rainbow alliance formed by DMK. With PMK's exit, the ruling Congress had secured the lone Lok Sabha seat in the Union Territory for itself and fielded Nararyanasamy, a three-time Rajya Sabha member.
Narayanasamy and Ramadoss, in their 60s now, belong to semi-urban pockets of Nonankuppam and Murungapakkam localities of this former French colony respectively.
"He was my closest classmate. We used to study the subject of economics together. We would peruse the books taken from the library in the college," Narayanasamy told PTI.
Ramadoss too recalled his close association with Narayanasamy in the college days and said he never expected then that they would one day battle it out in poll arena. "I did not then expect that we would lock horns in elections."
But both are aware of the high stakes and are prepared for an all out battle. "I will fight on issues concerning the people and not on any extraneous issues," Ramadoss said.
"Politics is different. Friendship is different. I am bound by the mandate of my high command," Narayansamy said.
After graduating from the college here, Narayanasamy went on to become a lawyer after studying law from the Madras Government Law college, while Ramadoss took to courses that helped him become a Professor of Economics in the Pondicherry University.
Narayanasamy had held several positions in the Congress before becoming Rajya Sabha member for the first time in 1985.
Ramadoss took the plunge into politics after being invited by the founder of PMK Dr S Ramadoss almost a decade ago. Initially, he was not keen to enter politics but made up his mind finally, influenced by the perception that social transformation could be accomplished only when literate sections joined politics.
Narayanasamy had been elected Rajya Sabha member thrice since his maiden win in 1985. He was re-elected to the Upper House of Parliament in 1991 and in 2003. The seat was conceded to DMK whose candidate held the post between 1996 and 2003.
This will be Narayanasamy's maiden electoral battle in his two-decade old political career.