Campaign of the AIADMK and the DMK has been in top gear

Even while the nominees of the two national parties — the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party — have intensified their campaign, the absence of star campaigners is proving to be a big handicap.

Besides slowing down the momentum of campaigning, this has dampened the spirit of the local leaders and cadre of these two parties.

It is almost a month since the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo launched the campaign and has been making whistle-stop tour of the State. With another three weeks left for polling, Ms. Jayalalithaa has covered a majority of the constituencies.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi, at 90, addressed a meeting in Chennai last week and is scheduled to commence his whirlwind tour of the State from April 5. The party treasurer M. K. Stalin has been crisscrossing the State since March 14 addressing many road side meetings, besides winding up with a public meeting every day.

The Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam founder Vijayakant launched the campaign on March 14 even before finalisation of seat sharing in the NDA in the State. His wife too is on the campaign trail for the past many days.

With the Congress left all alone to defend itself, the party nominees are canvassing with the help of local leaders and activists, without any direction from the high command.

Union Finance Minister P.Chidambaram has largely confined himself to Sivaganga, his home turf where he gave way to his son and All India Congress Committee member Karti Chidambaram.

Another Union Minister G. K. Vasan launched his campaign only on March 29 at Kumbakonam. However, Mr. Vasan is expected to cover all the 39 constituencies before the polling date.

Congress sources say that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, the major vote-catchers, are expected to campaign in the State shortly. Their visits would surely make a big difference to the party’s prospects, says P. Ravi, a youth Congress worker. Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president B.S. Gnanadesikan has proposed a roadshow for Mr. Gandhi in Tamil Nadu apart from a public meeting. But this might hinge on clearance from security agencies at the Centre and State, he had said.

At least Union Minister E.M. Sudarsana Nachiappan, former ministers including Jayanthi Natarajan, K. V. Thankgabalu and Mr. Gnanadesikanshould make a whirlwind tour of the constituencies to maintain the tempo, Congress cadre say. The position of BJP is no better. The party cadre expect the campaign to gather steam as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and party president Rajnath Singh are scheduled to address poll rallies in a few centres.

Like in the Congress, senior leaders in the BJP— L. Ganesan, Pon Radhakrishnan and C.P. Radhakrishnan — have largely confined themselves to their respective constituencies.