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Updated: March 27, 2014 08:35 IST

A veteran who has weathered the storm

Syed Muthahar Saqaf
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N.S.V. Chitthan
The Hindu N.S.V. Chitthan

N. S. V. Chitthan has been in the electoral politics since 1967

He first contested the State Assembly elections in 1967 when he was just 30. Since then, senior Congress leader N.S.V.Chitthan has been a regular in Assembly or Lok Sabha election, except in 1991.

The 80-year-old Chitthan, the Congress nominee for Dindigul Lok Sabha constituency, is the most experienced leader of any party in the electoral fray today. He has so far contested in 12 Lok Sabha / Tamil Nadu Assembly elections spread over five decades. The DMK chief M.Karunanidhi, who has been in the electoral fray since 1957, is possibly the other candidate who would have contested more elections than Mr.Chitthan in the State.

Chitthan’s entry into electoral battle was by accident. During the 1967 Assembly elections, the poll in Thirumangalam constituency in Madurai district was countermanded due to the death of a candidate . The election was a turning point in the political history of Tamil Nadu as DMK took the reign for the first time. The grand old party, Congress, has been out of power in the State since then.

As DMK wave was prevailing in the State then, the Congress candidate nominated for Thirumangalam refused to contest fearing a certain defeat. When many of the senior leaders too opted out for the same reason, the leader of the party, K.Kamaraj, picked 30-year-old Chitthan, son-in-law of one of his close associates, as Congress candidate for the seat.

Mr. Chitthan, defying the predictions of party seniors, emerged victorious. In the next Assembly election, however, he suffered defeat as Congress (Organisation) candidate in the same constituency.

He was chosen by Kamaraj for the famous Dindigul by-election held immediately after MGR launched the ADMK in1973. Even while ADMK’s K.Mayathevar won the by-poll, Chitthan attracted the attention of one and all by finishing runner up, pushing Pon. Muthuramalingam, the ruling DMK candidate, to third position.

Mr.Chitthan contested the Assembly poll from Thirumangalam Assembly seat on Congress ticket in 1977, 1980, 1984, and 1989. He emerged successful in 1980 and 1984.

Mr.Chitthan who did not get ticket in the 1991 elections, won from Dindigul constituency on the erstwhile Tamil Maanila Congress ticket in the 1996 Lok Sabha elections. He suffered defeat in the subsequent two LS elections and won in 2004 and 2009 from the same constituency.

From manual ballot papers to electronic voting machine, one party dominance to multiparty alliances, unrestricted electioneering to regulated campaign, this veteran of Tamil Nadu politics has seen it all.

What concerns him more is the fall in values: “Ethics has been given a go-by and personal gain is now the watchword. ”

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