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Monday, October 15, 2001

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Tough battle for AIADMK in Tiruchengode

By A. V. Ragunathan

NAMAKKAL, OCT. 14. Of the four municipalities in Namakkal district, three would go to the polls on October 16. They are Tiruchengode, Komarapalayam and Rasipuram.

Except in Rasipuram, in the other two municipalities it is going to be a tough fight for the major rivals - the AIADMK and the DMK. While the former has tasted a landslide victory in the region in the Assembly poll in May, the latter is mulling over the strategy to gain the lost grounds.

Tiruchengode, by virtue of its being the home-town of the Finance Minister, Mr. C. Ponnaiyan, has acquired the status of a prestigious constituency. Mr. Ponnaiyan, along with the Minister for Cooperatives, Mr. P. Dhanapal, is slogging it out in support of the AIADMK candidate, Mr. M. Gurusamy. For Mr. Ponnaiyan, who won with a comfortable margin in the Assembly elections, it is a prestigious issue to make his party candidate win. However, the ground reality is such that the incumbent, Mr. R. Natesan, who is running for the second time, would make it a difficult proposition for Mr. Gurusamy.

It is learnt that though Mr. Gurusamy does not enjoy any clout in the AIADMK, he has been fielded because he is close to Mr. Ponnaiyan. Mr. Natesan's popularity would have the potential to upset the applecart of the AIADMK.

Having realised that they could not take it for granted this time, the AIADMK leaders are using all weapons in their armours, including a fusillade of corruption charges against Mr. Natesan. They have roped in Mr. Selvaganapathy, MP, for the campaign.

An unexpected turn of event recently would slightly mar the DMK's chances; the PMK west district secretary, Mr. Chandrasekaran, quit the party, citing difference of opinion with the Kabilamalai constituency MLA, Mr. Malaiappasamy.

The Congress candidate, Mr. K. Ponnusamy, and the MDMK nominee, Mr. Marappan, along with two Independents, Mr. R. Raju and Mr. K.Nagaraj, are also in the fray.

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