Puducherry Assembly polls | Campaigning set for final flourish today

Star campaigner: Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeting the crowd before addressing a public meeting at Lawspet in Puducherry recently.  

After a slow but steady build-up, the campaigning for the April 6 Assembly election is heading for a final, frenetic flourish as political rallies wound up their voter outreach on the penultimate day on Saturday.

The campaigning will conclude at 7 p.m. on Sunday when prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Cr.PC take effect. The silent period will be in force under the model code of conduct till 7 a.m. on April 7. There is no bar on door-to-door campaigning.

Over the past weeks, the Puducherry airspace has hosted an unprecedented number of choppers and chartered planes as several national leaders of the BJP — the list topped by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — have visited the city to campaign for the NDA alliance with the AINRC, AIADMK and the PMK.

Among the BJP heavyweights to visit the city were Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkarai and Fisheries Minister Giriraj Singh. Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal and Nirmal Kumar Surana, BJP in-charge for the Union Territory, have been camping in the city for the last few months.

Also among the celebrity campaigners was Kamal Haasan, founder of the Makkal Needhi Maiam, who did a road-show for the 22 MNM candidates in the fray.

The campaign of the Congress-led Secular Democratic Progressive Alliance has been largely spearheaded by former Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy and V. Vaithilingam, MP, while DMK president M.K. Stalin, former Union Minister Veerappa Moily, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Sanjay Dutt, AICC leader, have added heft to the SDPA campaign.

At campaign stops across the city, Mr. Narayanasamy’s rhetoric has targeted both the BJP and the AINRC blaming the NDA parties for colluding to bring down the Congress government. The constant obstructions to governance, securing Statehood, opposing NEET, scrapping of free rice scheme (by former Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi) and the NDA threat to Puducherry’s identity are among the issues being raked up on the campaign trail.

Polarising politics

In Oussudu, while seeking votes for S. Karthikeyan, Mr. Narayanasamy urged electors to reject the polarising politics of the BJP, while in Muthialpet where the Congress has fielded Senthil Kumaran, he said the Centre’s new legislation in the Parliament gave total veto power to the Lt. Governor in Delhi over the elected Chief Minister. The Congress-led front is also highlighting the anti-poor and pro-privatisation policies of the BJP.

Campaigning for Nettapakkam candidate V. Vizeaveny on Friday, former Minister M. Kandasamy said the candidate who had stood steadfast with the Congress at a time when the BJP was weaning away legislators can be counted to remain loyal to voters.

S. Gopal, DMK, candidate in Orleanpet, is focusing on the lack of adequate assistance from the BJP-ruled Centre when two cyclones wrought damage in Puducherry. He also raised concerns over the consequences on religious minorities from the NRC-CAA project of the BJP.

The BJP candidates are reiterating Mr. Modi’s development formula for turning Puducherry into a BEST (Business, Education, Spirituality and Tourism) hub. BJP leaders such as former Minister A. Namassivayam in Mannadipet have focused on slamming the ineptness of the previous Congress government and urging voters to choose the NDA to take Puducherry into the league of BJP-ruled States that are on a fast track to development.

Former Chief Minister N. Rangasamy, who began his tour of constituencies from Thattanchavady, one of the two seats apart from Yanam that he is contesting, has been attacking the Congress for an empty cupboard of achievements and for wasting five years fighting the Lieutenant Governor and the Centre. Addressing a campaign rally for party candidate K. Lakshminarayanan in the Raj Bhavan constituency, Mr. Narayanasamy blamed the Congress for lacking the political will to improve the lives of the people.

K. Lakshminarayanan, who is facing off with former Minister S.P. Sivakumar (DMK) said there was a groundswell of support for the AINRC as the people were yearning for change and aspired for growth of development of the Union Territory.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 10:47:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/puducherry-assembly/puducherry-assembly-polls-campaigning-set-for-final-flourish-today/article34236418.ece

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