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|August 26, 1999||
Kargil is no issue here
A Ganesh Nadar in Madurai
Madurai is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu. At the moment quite a few film fans are thrilled. Actress Revathi is in town canvassing for the Bharatiya Janata Party. There is no question of party affiliation. Everybody wants to see Revathi. Will they vote for the candidate she endorses? Probably no.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate here is Pon Muthuramalingam. P Mohan contests for the communists and A G S Rambabu fights under the Tamil Maanila Congress banner. Subramanian Swamy -- he needs no introduction, does he? -- is also trying his luck here.
Rambabu will get the votes of the Saurashtra community, which has a very large presence. Last time he had lost to Swamy despite an alliance with the DMK. Says a voter: "Rambabu will get his community's votes and the TMC party votes but not a single vote from the common man -- they have aligned with the wrong party. Everybody here associates the Puthiya Tamilagam with violence. Nobody will vote for it."
Ponmuthu -- as Muthuramalingam is known -- is being pushed by Chief Minister K Karunanidhi's son Alagiri, who has made Madurai his home. He has proved that he is a man to contend with in Madurai even when the DMK was out of power. With the Marumalarchi DMK votes and Atal Bihari Vajpayee's name behind him, Ponmuthu's chances aren't bad.
Many people believe that Mohan is the best bet. Last time he had polled over 100,000 votes. If you add the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam votes and those of the Congress, then you have a clear winner. But the AIADMK is still painted as corrupt and the Congress votes may not materialise. Sonia Gandhi is a non-starter in Tamil Nadu so far, you see.
Swamy is definitely going to lose his deposit. He does not even have people to work for him. Not that that deters him. He continues to address the press everyday as the president of the Janata Party. And the press continue to entertain him because AIADMK boss J Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi never have time for journalists.
Superstar Rajnikant had said that nobody should use his name or photograph for canvassing. He forgot to add songs. Both the TMC and the DMK are using the latest tunes from his movies for propaganda. The lyrics are of course changed to suit their needs. Wonder what Rajni will do.
The AIADMK uses catchy songs from MGR movies. They also use speeches of their beloved Amma, which are, to put it mildly, irritating. And Amma's antics as far as Sonia is concerned are certainly affecting the votes. It will reduce the AIADMK's share of votes. And it will not earn sympathy votes for the Congress because it is allied with the same AIADMK.
More than the Congress, it is the TMC and the DMK that are sympathising with Sonia. In Madurai, as the voters find the communists the most dependable, it looks like Mohan will sail through, but on a very small margin.
Incidentally, Kargil is no issue here. And though the very big and famous Meenakshi temple is here, there is no Hindutva wave either.
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