K. Raju

Since its formation AIADMK has been a formidable force in the district

The district has always been special for MGR It will be MDMK vs CPI(M) in DindigulKey contestants are Transport Minister R. Viswanathan, AIADMK State treasurer C. Srinivasan and I. Periasamy

DINDIGUL: This district has always been special for the late M.G. Ramachandran and the party he founded in 1972 the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

In 1972, when the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), led by its president M. Karunanidhi, threw out of the party one of its popular leaders and actor M.G. Ramachandran, Dindigul district was the first to recognise the matinee-idol-turned-politician and his budding AIADMK. In the 1973 byelection, the AIADMK scored what was to be the first of several electoral victories in the State by winning the Dindigul Lok Sabha seat.

With that a new chapter began in Tamil Nadu politics. With seeds of victory sown by people in Dindigul, MGR went on to win the Assembly elections in 1977 and ruled the State till his death in 1987 without a break. (Maya Thevar won the Dindigul Parliamentary seat in 1973 by-election.)

Carved out from Madurai district in 1985, Dindigul district, an AIADMK bastion, has seven Assembly segments, including two reserved constituencies Palani and Nilakottai.

Other constituencies are Natham, Dindigul, Vedasandur, Athoor and Oddanchatram.

Mixed population

It has a mixed population comprising Pillai, Naidu, Thevars, Vanniyars, Chettiyars and Gounders, Dalits and sizable population of Christians and Muslims. Agriculture, spinning and tanneries are the major business activities here.

Even as the Congress and the DMK dominated the polls till the 1970s, the AIADMK, since its formation, has been a formidable force in the district. In the 1977, 1980 and 1984 and 1991 elections, the AIADMK secured a majority of seats.

While Congress leader A.S. Ponnammal scored a hat trick of victories in Nilakottai, Vedasandur produced two AIADMK deputy speakers V.P. Balasubramanian and S. Gandhirajan and AIADMK leader V.R. Nedunchezhian won in Athoor in 1984.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) stalwarts S.A. Thangarajan and State general secretary N. Varadarajan were elected from Dindigul.

2001 poll

In the 2001 election, the AIADMK won in five constituencies and its ally, the CPI (M), won in Dindigul, leaving only the Oddanchatram seat to the DMK.

This time, the DMK is contesting in Athoor, Oddanchatram, Palani and Natham. Its ally CPI (M) has managed to retain Dindigul and the Congress sacrificed its traditional bastion, Natham, to gain Vedasandur and Nilakottai. Natham Congressman M.A. Andi Ambalam, who shifted his loyalty to the DMK, convinced the DMK to field him in Natham.

The AIADMK is contesting in six constituencies Oddanchatram, Athoor, Nilakottai, Palani, Natham and Vedasandur. It will be MDMK vs CPI(M) in Dindigul.

The AIADMK and the DMK are crossing swords in four constituencies directly.

The key contestants are Transport Minister R. Viswanathan (Natham), AIADMK State treasurer C. Srinivasan (Athoor), I. Periasamy (Athoor), R. Chakrapani (Oddanchatram) and K. Balabarathi, sitting CPI (M) MLA (Dindigul).

Total electorate

Dindigul has a total electorate of 13,06,008 with 6,42,088 men and 6,63,920 women. AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa and her ally, MDMK general secretary Vaiko, have already campaigned here.

The DMK chief M. Karunanidhi is expected soon. The Congress is yet to get its act together.