Electioneering for Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu has hardly touched on issues concerning the welfare of people in the state. Key political parties instead want voters to appreciate their views on the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka and the issue of a separate homeland for them.
With the nominations drawing to a close for the May 13 Lok Sabha elections to 39 constituencies in Tamil Nadu, the campaigning is expected to pick up momentum in the comingdays. Parties have already raised the pitch on the emotive Sri Lankan Tamils issue, making it a key poll plank, with All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its partners training their guns on the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its ally Congress.
While AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa has already started her campaign, arch rival and DMK chief M Karunanidhi will kick off the campaign from Tiruchirapalli on May 1. A staunch critic of the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Ealam and opponent of the separate Tamil Eelam concept, Jayalalithaa on Saturday night made a dramatic shift in her stand on homeland for Tamils, taking the view that a separate Eelam alone was the solution to the ethnic problem in the island nation. Jayalalithaa is also going all out against the Rs 2,400 crore Sethusamudram project on the ground that it was "detrimental" to marine life and livelihood of the local fishermen, but Karunanidhi has stoutly denied the charge.
Besides Jayalalithaa, her allies Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Patalli Makkal Katchi, Communist Party of India and CPM, are also attacking the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance at the Centre on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue and the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu over power cut and job losses. The DMK, on its part, is putting forth its achievements. In the last polls, the DMK-led front had received a resounding mandate winning all the 39 seats. Karunanidhi's sons M K Stalin and M K Azhagiri, making electoral debut, daughter and Rajya sabha member Kanimozhi and former Union IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran have emerged DMK's star campaigners, highlighting the party's populist schemes such as one kg rice for Re one, sale of provision packets at subsidised rate and free colour TV scheme.
They have been attacking the AIADMK for promising to scrap the Sethusamudram project. The DMK and its allies have been maintaining that the scheme upon implementation would benefit the backward southern districts of Tamil Nadu. As AIADMK plumped for an alliance with constituents of the Third Front, the Bharatiya Janata Party had to remain content with aligning with smaller parties floated by Tamil actors R Sarath Kumar and Karthik, besides Subramanian Swamy of the Janata Party. The saffron party is telling the people that only it can offer a solution to the Sri Lankan issue. The party is expected to focus mainly on price rise, economic slowdown and terrorism.