Andipatti Assembly constituency in Theni district of Tamil Nadu is the cynosure of all eyes because of its high profile candidate, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. The constituency first attracted attention in 1980 when the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam nominee S.S. Rajendran won by a margin of 28,000 votes. Not remarkable in itself, one might think but the point is that the margin was higher than the one secured then by AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran, who won from Madurai West. No wonder then that in the 1984 elections, MGR switched to Andipatti.
A war by proxyNorth Chennai seems to be ahead of the rest of the city in electioneering for the Assembly elections, scheduled for May 8. With the major political parties announcing the names of their candidates, wall space will become scarce in the days to come, though graffiti has been banned. Amid the din and bustle of the business-dominated area, election posters try to draw the attention of passers-by. Bills and graffiti in support of candidates in the Tiruvottiyur and Royapuram Assembly segments are a common sight. On either side of the Tiruvottiyur High Road, the flags of a major political party and its allies can be seen fluttering. The rest of the city has some catching up to do.
Help from friendsThe Bharatiya Janata Party has its own way of looking after the needs of its smaller partner in the National Democratic Alliance, though in West Bengal, it is the Trinamool Congress that is the bigger ally in the Pashimbanga Ganatantrik Front. The BJP will be providing a helicopter to Trinamool leader, Mamata Banerjee, when she campaigns, according to State BJP president Tathagata Roy. The copter will also be available to ferry national BJP leaders when they come to the State to muster support for the Trinamool-led combine. The BJP leadership has, in recent weeks, not taken too kindly to Trinamool's decision to allocate only 31 seats to it. But with elections round the corner, leaders of both parties have thought it best to bury their differences.
Ordeal for commutersIt will be a three-week long ordeal for commuters in Kolkata as well as in the districts. Most buses, autos and taxis will go off the roads after being requisitioned for poll duty. No new phenomenon this, but spreading the poll process over five phases will prolong the suffering of the common man. According to office-bearers of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate, about 80 per cent of the taxis and over 50 per cent of the 25,000 private buses and 9,000 minibuses plying in the city had already been `posted' with the dreaded `Requisitioned for Poll Duty' sticker. The situation in the the North and South 24 Parganas districts is no different. Even private cars are not spared, and although Ambassadors seem to be the favourite, owners of fancy cars also ply their vehicles almost stealthily, fearing a `takeover.' Since the tax-tokens are also seized in the process, these cars cannot ply without reporting for poll duty.(Contributed by T. Ramakrishnan, K.T. Sangameswaran, Marcus Dam and Indrani Dutta)