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|August 24, 1999||
Close contest of a different kind
A Ganesh Nadar in Tiruchendur
It is Tamil Nadu's southernmost constituency, is Tiruchendur. It's also unique in that it the only constituency where you can see the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, running as it does across the districts of Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin.
And though the constituency is so large the three main contestants come from places within 10 km of each other. Joyaseelan of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is from Nazareth, which is 8 km from Poochikadu, where from comes All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam contestant B P Rajan. And the Tamil Maanila Congress candidate, Dhanushkodi Adithan, is from Kayamoli, barely 3 km from Poochikadu.
Jayaseelan is a college principal who has never before stood for election. And if he has this habit of repeating every sentence at least thrice, you can put it down to a lifetime spent in pedagogic pursuits.
B P Rajan is another academician, a former vice-chancellor of the MGR Medical University. He also has his own dental college in Madras. That's where students get admitted to the Bachelor of Dental Surgery course for Rs 1 million, and get to do their MD for Rs 2 million. Or so I've been told. Rajan joined the AIADMK a week before the candidates were announced.
The TMC candidate, Dhanushkodi Adithan, is the only known face, having been an MP from here four times. He was also the Union minister for sports when the United Front was in power. He lost the last LS Election because he couldn't counter the allegation that he was more interested in exporting sand and granite than his constituency. He is the only familiar face in this election. The Independents numbering six are 'also ran'.
The Tiruchendur LS constituencies compromises the Tiruchendur, Sathankulam, Nanguneri, Radhapuram, Kanyakumari and Cheranmadevi assemblies.
The people of Tiruchendur believe that whoever wins here will be part of the government. In 1996 when Adithan won he was part of the UF government. Last year, when Ramarajan of the AIADMK won, that party became part of the government. And in the Tiruchendur assembly elections the DMK candidate Jennifer won and went on to become fisheries minister.
So if Vajpayee wants to become PM again he better help Jayaseelan win. I don't think the prime minister knows this story because he came to neighbouring Nagercoil but not here.
When Vajpayee was introducing the candidates in Nagercoil he mentioned Tiruchendur and looked around -- but Jayaseelan hadn't bothered to come.
Vajpayee went on to introduce Vaiko. Does that mean that Jayaseelan will be missing in Parliament too when Vajpayee looks for him?
At the moment, and only for the moment, B P Rajan seems to have the advantage, while Adithan is still throwing money around. Let us see what happens after M Karunanidhi addresses the crowds here. The race is still very much open.
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