The law and order situation in some pockets in the Chidambaram (reserve) Lok Sabha constituency is under strain amid minor clashes involving friends-turned-foes, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), pitted against each other in the Lok Sabha polls.

While the PMK is with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, the VCK is with the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance.

Within four days of the elections, two incidents of clashes between supporters of the two parties have occurred in the constituency: one at Vadakku Mangudi on the night of April 24 (after polling was over); and the other at Eechampoondi, near Kattumannarkoil, on Saturday.

In the first incident, scores of tenements of Dalits were ransacked, one hut was torched and over a dozen two-wheelers were damaged. Six Dalits were injured. The police have arrested 25 persons in connection with this incident and 14 persons from both groups in the second.

Police sources said that when VCK organiser Ramalingam, 37, was seeking support for party candidate Thol. Thirumavalavan at the Eechampoondi booth on April 24, the date of polling, PMK functionary Mahesh protested. This led to a wordy quarrel between the two. However, both groups, armed with wooden logs, re-assembled in the village on Saturday and attacked each other.

Houses ransacked

The houses of Mr. Ramalingam and Mr. Mahesh were ransacked. As tension prevailed in the area, police presence was strengthened. What is disconcerting is that since Chidambaram is reserved for the Scheduled Castes, both the VCK and the PMK have fielded Dalit candidates — Mr. Thirumavalavan and Sudha Manirathinem.

The rivalry between the two parties has got accentuated as they have started treating it as a turf war to prove their strength. While the Vanniyars, as a matter of right, are urging the Dalits to vote for the PMK’s “Mango” symbol, the Dalits have an aversion to it.

It is believed that the Dalits are determined to exercise their democratic rights without any external influence. As the post-poll uncertainty prevails, there is a perceptible undercurrent of tension in the constituency.