CPI workers in Nagapattinam feel unsettled

The AIADMK has made elaborate preparations ahead of the March 6 campaign of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for party candidate K. Gopal, but uncertainty prevails in the CPI camp that had won from the constituency six times. Nagapattinam is largely seen as a natural seat of the CPI.

However, the build-up to Ms. Jayalalitha’s visit and a brief campaign by Mr. Gopal have unsettled CPI workers here. The CPI, which wrested the constituency from the Congress in 1971, won from here in 1977, 1979, 1989, 1996 and 1998. The last three elections were won by M. Selvarasu, seen as one of the strong contenders for the seat now.

Mr. Selvarasu’s claim to fame was also his ability to win in 1989, when the DMK-led alliance, of which the CPI was a part, lost in all 39 constituencies (including Puducherry). Mr. Selvarasu then went on to win consecutive elections in 1996 and 1998.

Touted as a Communist forte, the Nagapattinam Lok Sabha constituency has, however, witnessed five wins by the DMK. The last three terms – 1999, 2004 and 2009 – were held by A. K. S. Vijayan of the DMK.

In 2004, the CPI, an ally of the DMK, was denied the seat and Mr. Vijayan, the then sitting MP, went on to win a second term. In 2009, Mr. Selvarasu was defeated by Mr. Vijayan for a third term.

Even as seat sharing talks remain inconclusive, sources say there are other strong contenders for Nagapattinam from within the CPI. Besides Mr. Selvarasu, who is the district secretary, Palanichamy, State deputy general secretary and a three-time MLA from Thiruthuraipoondi Assembly constituency, is an aspirant. Dismissing speculations, Mr. Selvarasu says the alliance with AIADMK is a settled matter. “We are part of the alliance and the party cadre are hopeful,” he says.

The AIADMK held the seat only once, in 1984.

But the AIADMK cadre are upbeat. “We will root for the candidate Amma points to. For now, our focus is only on her visit,” says Jeevanandam, former Minister.

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