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Vijayakant outfit a force to reckon with in Cuddalore district

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A.V. Ragunathan

DMDK could pose stiff challenge to both DMK and AIADMK

Keen tussle likely in the district, regarded as a bastion of DMK and its alliesFocus has shifted to Cuddalore district as Vijayakant is contesting from Vriddhachalam

CUDDALORE: The Cuddalore district, supposed to be the bastion of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its allies, is heading for a keen tussle with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam front in the coming elections.

Both the alliances look quite formidable, but each of them has, of late, realised that the new entrant in the fray the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam of Vijayakant is a force to reckon with.

The DMDK has raised the hackles among the politicians, though outwardly they keep a brave face and pretend as if the newcomer is of no consequence. For the reason that Vijayakant has chosen to contest from the Vriddhachalam constituency, the focus of Tamil Nadu has shifted to the Cuddalore district.

A repeat

True to the saying that history repeats itself, a similar thing happened in 2001 when Jayalalithaa chose Bhuvanagiri as one of the four constituencies to file her nominations. But, subsequently, she was disqualified for having chosen to contest in more than two constituencies at a time.

Therefore, Bhuvanagiri narrowly missed the chance of the star status; but now this honour has gone to Vriddhachalam. So far, the constituents of the Democratic Progressive Alliance are strongly entrenched in Cuddalore, Panruti, Vriddhachalam, Mangalore (Reserved), Chidambaram, Kattumannarkoil (Reserved) and Kurinjipadi.

But Nellikuppam and Bhuvanagiri are considered to be the pocket-boroughs of the AIADMK. The erstwhile South Arcot district has gone in favour of the DMK from 1967, except for a brief interregnum from 1977-1980 when the late M.G. Ramachandran held sway all over the State.

The district consists of a mixed population of Vanniyars, Dalits, Reddiyars, Nadars, and a sprinkling of the minority communities. Besides them, the farmers and fishermen form a considerable chunk of vote-banks in the delta regions of Kattumannarkoil and Chidambaram and in the 54-km-long coastal areas.

Demographic indicators

The demography of the district gives a fair indication as to which way the verdict will turn: against the backdrop of the recurring droughts and floods and the lethal tsunami, the victims, who have to put up a relentless battle against the nature's fury for years together, would obviously determine the outcome of the elections. Excepting certain fringe groups, the affected people have received adequate compensation for their losses. More than the size of the compensation, the timely help rendered by the powers-that-be has created a lasting impression among them.

Setback for DPA?

Such a phenomenon has the potential to tilt the scale in favour of the ruling AIADMK. This thought would keep the DPA partners on their toes, and the chances are that they might suffer a setback in some of these pockets.

The 15.53-lakh-strong electorate in the district would view the AIADMK camp as a coherent group fired by the zeal to wrest the district from the DPA's domination, while the Opposition front is trying to get its act together and retain its influence here.

But the politically weary sections, fed on promises and counter-promises, may in fact be looking for an alternative, and the question is whether the DMDK will fit the bill. Mr. Vijayakant's handicap has been the non-allotment of a symbol to his party. So his campaign lacks its main focus.

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