20 candidates are in the fray for the June 12 by-election

Curtains came down on campaigning for the Pudukottai Assembly constituency here on Sunday.

Cadre of the two main contenders – the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam – went round the constituency visiting street by street and door to door.

Though electioneering was on low key initially apparently owing to the decision of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's decision to boycott the poll, the constituency witnessed some high decibel campaign over the past few days.

After Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa's whirlwind campaign across the constituency on Saturday, the DMDK founder Vijayakant addressed a public meeting in the town on Sunday.

While Ms. Jayalalithaa chose to ignore the DMDK in her speeches, Mr. Vijayakant wound up his campaign with a frontal attack on the government. Accusing Ms. Jayalalithaa of ruling the State as per her whims and fancies, he called upon the voters to support the DMDK candidate in the by-election to rein in the government.

He reiterated his strong opposition to the hike in the price of milk, bus fare and power tariff. A win in the by-election for AIADMK would only lead to more hike in the cost of essential services, he said, citing the government's decision to increase power tariff after the Sankarankoil by-election. By handing out a defeat, voters of Pudukottai could make Ms. Jayalalithaa realise her follies.

Referring to the nomination of V.R. Karthik Thondaiman, who was the Municipal chairman of the town, as the AIADMK candidate for the by-election, Mr.Vijayakant said that only voters should be vested with the power of recalling an elected representative. Though the people had elected Mr. Karthik Thondaiman as municipal chairman, he was made to quit the post. “Does it mean that Mr.Thondaiman is not capable of implementing civic schemes?” he wondered and asked how he would nurse the constituency if he could not deliver the goods as a municipal chairman. The presidium chairman of the party Panruti S. Ramachandran and K. Balabharathi, MLA and Deputy Leader of the CPI (M) Legislature Party, also participated.

Elsewhere in the constituency AIADMK Ministers, who have been camping here, and actors including Anandaraj joined the last minute efforts to woo the voters. Cycle rallies also formed the last minute effort of the party men. Revenue and the police officials commenced checks in lodges, marriage halls and guesthouses to ensure that no outsider was staying in the constituency as soon as the campaign ended at 5 p.m.

Twenty candidates are in the fray for the June 12 by-election with Mr. Thondaiman of the AIADMK and N. Jahir Hussain of the DMDK being the main contenders. Counting of votes would be taken up on June 15.