Arch rivals, AIADMK and DMK, have already hit the streets; Congress and BJP poll pitch yet to gain momentum
As summer sets in, election fever is slowly catching up in the city. Campaigns have begun, albeit on a low key.
With a number of Assembly segments to cover for each Lok Sabha constituency, the AIADMK and the DMK — the traditional rivals contesting mainly on their own strength — have already hit the streets.
On Thursday, AIADMK Chennai North candidate T.G. Venkatesh Babu campaigned on the narrow lanes of Kolathur. The sound of a band, crackers and a booming voice coming over speakers brought residents to their doorsteps. On a moped, L. Vijayalakshmi, a party worker, along with scores of other cadres, followed the campaign vehicle, waving party flags.
At Kolathur, which is in need of better infrastructure, Mr. Babu promised speedy completion of infrastructure, including the Ennore-Manali Road project. “Developing the third rail terminal at Royapuram is my priority,” he said, adding a near-impossible claim, “I will make north Chennai pollution free.”
At Arumbakkam’s MMDA Colony, a festive spirit spreads as AIADMK Chennai Central candidate S.R. Vijayakumar campaigns. Distributing pamphlets, cadres ask votes for ‘Amma’. An advocate, Mr. Vijayakumar started meeting people four days ago. Some residents complained of neglect of Arumbakkam in the Metro Rail project and stressed a need for better pedestrian facilities. Accompanied by Mayor Saidai S. Duraisamy, Mr. Vijayakumar also sought the support of college students.
AIADMK’s candidate for the Chennai South seat, J. Jayavardan, son of former Speaker D. Jayakumar, is well into his second week of campaigning. The 26-year-old post-graduate student of medicine campaigns from an open jeep and has already touched the Assembly segments of Saidapet, Virugambakkam, Mylapore, T. Nagar and Velachery.
In Saidapet, DMK’s Chennai South candidate T.K.S. Elangovan started visiting shopkeepers in the Saidapet market. Having been shifted from Chennai North from where he won last time, Mr. Elangovan has begun campaigning in earnest with former Mayor M. Subramanian by his side.
As could be expected, DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin kick-started the campaign for Dayanidhi Maran at a meeting of party workers in Royapettah. Mr. Maran, former Union minister for IT, has begun holding meetings with party functionaries and community leaders in Chennai Central that has a sizable Muslim population. R. Girirajan, DMK’s Chennai North candidate and a new face, is still working on a campaign schedule.
The Congress has started conducting roadside meetings, said ‘Royapuram’ Mano. Meanwhile, a senior BJP leader said, “We are talking to residents, showcasing Modi’s Gujarat model and the need for change.”
Once the national parties firm up their candidates and summer advances, things are likely to really hot up in Chennai.
(Reporting by K. Lakshmi, K. Manikandan, Deepa H. Ramakrishnan, R. Srikanth and Serena Josephine M.)