P. Sudhakar

He has completed works to the tune of Rs.175 crore during the past five years However, his ministerial colleague, C. Karuppsasamy, managed to perform a hat-trick at Sankarankovil reserved constituency

TIRUNELVELI: While electing two persons to the Tamil Nadu Assembly for the third time in succession and overwhelmingly voting for another sitting MLA for the second time, who won the battle of ballots with a whopping margin, the district voters also had in store a shock to everyone, especially to All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam functionaries, when they preferred N. Maalai Raja of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to the Minister for Industries, Nainar Nagendran, in Tirunelveli constituency, whose victory was anticipated by all quarters.

The AIADMK men here can't just believe this defeat and are still clueless about this. Since he had completed development works worth Rs. 175 crore during the past five years, including two major drinking water schemes, Mr. Nainar Nagendran, who used to meet the public during the weekends, was quite confident of his victory.

"I won the previous battle by a slender margin of just 722 votes, but this time I'm quite confident that I can win with a comfortable margin of over 40,000 votes, as I am quite satisfied with my performance," he, during the electioneering, said.

However, his defeat at the hands of a debutant, Mr. Maalai Raja, by a wafer thin margin of just 606 votes, has sent shock waves across the district. Though the DMK candidate was trailing behind right from the beginning during the counting of votes, he made a dramatic come back from 14th round to gradually reduce the margin and overtook the minister in the final round of counting of general votes polled in the electronic voting machines.

When the postal votes, mostly exercised by teachers and government employees, were counted, Mr. Maalai Raja bagged 388 votes while Mr. Nainar Nagendran could get only 49 votes, which actually made the difference. Moreover, the 4,080 votes polled in favour of an independent, S. Jayachandran, the dummy candidate to the Desiya Dravida Murpokku Kazhagam's official contender, who withdrew his nomination in support of Mr. Nainar, and the 2,709 votes bagged by All-India Forward Bloc's S. Nambirajan also contributed to the defeat of the minister.

However, his ministerial colleague, C. Karuppsasamy, managed to go for a hat-trick at Sankarankovil reserved constituency despite the challenges posed by DMK's S. Thangavelu and AIFB's P. Subbulakshmi.

Contrary to the expectations that Ms. Subbulakshmi, a Dalit fielded by a Thevar-dominant outfit, would get more than 20,000 votes with the backing of Arunthathiyar and Thevar community voters, she could get only 9,740 votes, which actually facilitated the third successive victory of Mr. Karuppasamy.

Similarly, the victory of Mr. Appavu, who also registered a hat-trick at Radhapuram segment with a margin of 10,697 votes, was also facilitated by K.P.K. Selvaraj, a Congress functionary jumped into the fray opposing the fielding of Mr. Appavu and polled 9,017 votes. Had he not contested the election, it would have helped Ms. Gnanapunitha, the AIADMK candidate.

The most astonishing aspect of the election results from the district is the resounding second successive victory of T.P.M. Maideen Khan, who defeated the Indian National League candidate for Palayamkottai, K.M. Nizamudeen, by a whopping margin of 41,299 votes.

"While dedicating this victory to DMK president, M. Karunanidhi, I assure the voters that I'll try my level best to live up to their expectations," a visibly elated Mr. Maideen Khan said.

In Cheranmahadevi, a bastion of AIADMK, sitting MLA, P.H. Paul Manoj Pandian suffered a blow at the hands of P. Veldurai of Congress, as the traditional AIADMK votes went in favour of AIFB's A. Paramasivan (5,966) and DMDK's S. Rajendranathan (8,119) while the margin stood only at 6,032.