No cake-walk for AIADMK

AIADMK volunteers campaigning in Vaniyambadi on Tuesday. — Photo: M. Moorthy

AIADMK volunteers campaigning in Vaniyambadi on Tuesday. — Photo: M. Moorthy  

By Our Staff Reporter

VANIYAMBADI May 29. The Opposition propaganda of rising prices of essential commodities and the hike in bus fare and electricity charges, grievances of the labour displaced by the closure of tanneries and the recent ``pro-BJP'' stance of the AIADMK are the issues likely to decide the votes in the Vaniyambadi Assembly constituency which is facing by-election on May 31.

A tour of the constituency reveals that though most of them are upset over the rise in prices, they seem to be nursing a fear that defeating the AIADMK would result in possible neglect of the constituency by the ruling party. The issue of price hike formed a major part of the campaigning by the DMK president, M. Karunanidhi, the MDMK general secretary, Vaiko, the TNCC president, E.V.K.S. Elangovan, the TMC president, G. K.Vasan, and the PMK leader, S. Ramadoss.

The preferences of the voters are likely to be varied inasmuch as the constituency has a clear urban and rural divide, with Vaniyambadi and Ambur constituting the urban segment and the village and town panchayats in Alangayam and Madhanur panchayat unions making up the rural segment. Besides 32 per cent Muslims, the constituency has a sizable population of Adi Dravidas, Mudaliars, Vanniyars, Yadhavas and Christians. The preferences of the urban voters, comprising a sizable number of Muslims, are likely to be influenced by considerations of the pro-secular credentials of various parties. A letter from the Tamil Nadu chapter of the All India Milli Council to the Indian National League State chief extending its support to the INL candidate, Aroor Nawaz, in view of AIADMK's ``indirect support'' to the Sangh Parivar policies has sent jitters in the AIADMK camp.

This was reflected in the frantic attempts of the Ministers led by M. Thambi Durai to woo Muslims. There was a move by the local Muslims to assure the Ministers that they were not bound by the All India Milli Council's plea. Opposition leaders such as the CPI(M) central committee member, N. Sankaraiah, the State CPI secretary, R. Nallakannu, and Mr. Elangovan also tried to rub it in by telling the voters about the ``hypocrisy'' of both the AIADMK and the DMK in either directly or indirectly supporting the ``pro-Hindutva'' policies of the NDA Government.

While the DMK is trying to cash in on the popularity of its candidate, E.M. Hanifa, an Islamic devotional singer and the negative votes against the AIADMK, the party being a partner in the BJP-led NDA Government continues to be a disadvantage to it. With the AIADMK also being seen as indirectly supporting the NDA, the INL is trying hard to capture the Muslim vote bank. The INL is cashing in on the youth of its candidate, Aroor Nawaz, a resident of Ambur.

The eight Ministers, camping here for the last three weeks to ``ensure the victory'' of the AIADMK candidate, R.Vadivel, are making all kinds of promises. An advantage that the AIADMK has is the voters' realisation that an Opposition victory was not going to alter the stability of the government. They feel they stand to gain by voting for the AIADMK, which was going to rule for the next full four years.

Besides R.Vadivel (AIADMK), E.M.Hanifa (DMK), Aroor Nawaz (INL) and R. Lakshmikantham (MDMK), 16 independents are also in the fray in the constituency which has an electorate of 2,02,784, comprising 1,01,804 women and 98,980 men.

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