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Rediff.com  » Election » TN poll campaign lacks the usual masala

TN poll campaign lacks the usual masala

May 05, 2009 11:29 IST

Campaigning for the May 13 Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu appears to be lacklustre, in an unusual break from the phenomenon of high-pitched and inimitable style of electioneering the state is known for.

With barely four days left for the curtains to fall on campaigning, political leaders criss-crossing the state have by and large not turned the spotlight on national issues.

But, they have brought to centrestage the emotive issue of the plight of Sri Lankan Tamil civilians in the war zone in the island nation following the offensive launched against LTTE, with parties vying to upstage each other to portray themselves as better champions of the ethnic Tamils' cause.

Typifying this, AIAMDK leader Jayalalithaa, who had been opposing creation of a separate Tamil Eelam, a homeland for Sri Lankan Tamils, did a U-turn to support the concept touting it as the only solution to end the decades-old ethnic strife.

Her dramatic shift came after her bitter political foe Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi called for snapping all diplomatic ties with Sri Lanka if it did not heed India's appeal for ceasefire.

As Jayalalithaa upped the ante on the Lankan issue, Karunanidhi, who had been supporting the Eelam, said if it was achieved through peaceful means, he would be the first person to welcome it.

Seeking to turn the heat on DMK, part of the UPA, Jayalalithaa accused it and the Centre of not doing anything tangible to mitigate the suffering of Tamil civilians caught in the cross fire of between Sri Lankan Army and LTTE.

As the opposition intensified their onslaught on the Lankan issue, 85-year-old Karunanidhi, in a move to take the wind out of the opposition sails, dramatically launched an indefinite fast on April 27, despite his ill health.

But he called it off within six hours on the plea that the Sri Lankan government had announced cessation of hostilities.

However, Jayalalithaa and other opposition leaders like MDMK chief Vaiko and PMK founder S Ramadoss, known for their pro-LTTE views, had dubbed the fast as a high drama and a vote catching effort by Karunanidhi.

AIADMK promised to scrap Sethusamudram shipping canal project saying it had endangered ecology of the Palk Straits, has been picked up by the DMK chief as a stick to beat her with. Karunanidhi has asked people to reject those who opposed the project, which he says is beneficial to the state.

The allies of AIADMK -- MDMK, PMK and the Left parties -- which were supporting the project, have been muted in their response on the issue.

PMK founder S Ramadoss, besides taking on the DMK on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, has also been pillorying the Karunanidhi government for the power shortage, taking over agricultural land for special economic zones and acquiring residential places for the Chennai airport expansion.

He is also coming down heavily on Karunanidhi for giving freebies to the people instead of providing them employment.

Only the Left parties have taken up the national issues like the country's economic policies pursued by the Manmohan Singh government and promised to reverse them if the Third Front is voted to power.

CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat, who campaigned in the state for a few days, had said his party would strive to form a non-Congress and non-BJP government at the Centre, which would "correct" the path of India's foreign policy, which he alleged was tilted towards the United States.

Actor politician Vijaykant, fighting the electoral battle alone, has targeted both DMK and AIADMK for the "ills of the state" and appealed to the people to reject both the parties.

While Jayalalithaa is using a helicopter in her campaign, a deviation from past practice, the DMK chief's son and party treasurer M K Stalin, has been bearing the brunt of the burden of his party's campaign, as Karunanidhi, a star campaigner for DMK for over five decades, is unable to involve himself in active electioneering due to ill health.

BJP's L K Advani and Congress' Rahul Gandhi are expected to campaign in the state this week.

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