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Tamil Nadu: BJP pins hope on DMK-Congress rift

By Saubhadro Chatterji in Kanyakumari / Rameswaram
May 05, 2009 03:27 IST
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Who'll be your main opponent in this seat? Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate Helen Davidson says, "It's DMK versus BJP (Bharatiya Janat party) in the Kanyakumari constituency." Sitting Communist Party of India-Marxist Member of Parliament A V Bellaramin's reply, "My fight is against the BJP." And the BJP's Pon Radhakrishnan -- the common factor in all rival camps -- claims, "I am beyond any contest. I will definitely win. Others are fighting among themselves for the second position!"

What gives this man so much confidence? Congress district president S Jayapaul says, "Congressmen are working hard but not from their heart for our alliance. Unfortunately, the choice of the DMK candidate has been slapped on us by some central leaders. Local cadres are disappointed." And Pon Balakrishnan laughs, "Many Congressmen are working for me!"

The Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat, reconstituted from the erstwhile Nagercoil constituency in the delimitation, is a "sentimental seat" for local Congressmen. Iconic leaders like Kamaraj had represented this area and "Rajiv Gandhi always visited Kanyakumari whenever he came near this area," says C A S V Vigilious, Nagercoil town Congress committee president. "Last time when the seat was given to the Communists in alliance, we were assured by top leaders Congress that we will get back this seat in 2009. But we feel betrayed," says D I Tagore, another local Congress leader.

The result is: there are long convoys of auto rickshaws, motorbikes and cars in the BJP and the CPI-M's campaign but DMK's Helen Davidson comes to Elavuvilai village with just five vehicles. "No top state Congress leader -- G K Vasan, P Chidambaram, state president Thangavalu -- have come here in the recent past. They fear they might have to face wrath of local cadres," says another local leader.

In another coastal tip, of Rameswaram, the BJP workers are upbeat as the party has fielded S Thirunavukkarasar, a former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam minister with six assembly election victories in his credit -- in the Lok Sabha seat of Ramanathapuram. "He has a clean image and has done a lot of work for his previous constituency," Pramod Kumar, the town organising secretary of the BJP claims sitting at a Dharamshala turned poll office in Rameswaram.

In 2004, the BJP had joined hands with J Jayalalitha. The whole alliance drew a blank as the combine of DMK-Congress-Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-Pattali Makkal Katchi-CPM-Communist Party of India swept in all 39 seats.

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Saubhadro Chatterji in Kanyakumari / Rameswaram
Source: source

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