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|August 27, 1999||
BJP has the upper hand in Nagercoil
A Ganesh Nadar
Nagercoil comprises the assemblies of Nagercoil, Killiyur, Thiruvettar, Vilavancode, Colachel and Padmanabhapuram. The one BJP MLA in the State assembly is from Padmanabhapuram.
In the last Lok Sabha election, the Tamil Maanila Congress candidate, Dennis, managed to beat the BJP candidate, Pon Radhakrishnan, by 20,000 votes. This time too they are both in the fray but there's a difference.
Dennis is now the Congress candidate. The TMC has put up Kumaradas, who is also the local MLA. The BJP considers this constituency important. The prime minister himself came to seek votes, and the people were definitely impressed.
Jayalalitha addressed a meeting in Tiruchendur that was well attended by her party members. The public was hardly visible. An old Brahmin woman was on stage. J J touched her feet. Or, at least she actually bent over halfway. The Tiruchendur Brahmins were happy.
Suppu Iyer was excited that Jayaseelan, the Christian DMK candidate, prayed at the famous Subramaniam Swamy temple here. Fisheries Minister Janifer (also a Christian) accompanied him. Suppu knew more though.
"They didn't fold their hands together. They had their open palms facing heavenward."
The TMC workers were happy.
"Last time he gave us only five grand to paint the walls in our union. This time he has given us 20 grand."
Looks like Dhanskodi Aditan has decided to spend more money, worried that stinginess may cause him to lose again.
Yesterday in Kurumbur, part of the Tiruchendur assembly, and ADMK van was canvassing. J J's droning voice droned on about Admiral Bhagwat. Suddenly crackers burst in the middle of the road. A Contessa came to a halt. The door opened and B P Rajan stepped out.
He accepted a shawl that was placed on him, got back into the car and was gone. The whole exercise lasted 30 seconds.
A retired teacher said, "Rajan must've given the money for the shawl in advance". The car was followed by two other Contessas and then two Ambassadors. Bouncing in their wake was the propaganda van.
In Kanyakumari people have not yet decided who to vote for.
"Rajan and Aditan have come, we are waiting to see Jayaseelan" they said.
In Nanguneri, the voters are more vociferous.
One declared "People still hate the ADMK for its corruption". Another said, "Who is this Rajan? Dhanuskodi can't win if he still persists with his exports."
A third announced, "Jayaseelan will win by default even though the ADMK is working the hardest."
Nagercoil usually returns a Christian candidate. But this time if the two Christians, Kumardass and Dennis, split the votes, Radhakrishnan will romp home easily.
"You don't underestimate the Christians. Two days before the elections the church will tell one of them to withdraw. All the votes will go to only one candidate," said a wise local.
Villikuri falls in the Padmanabhapuram assembly. It has a unique bridge -- the water flows over it and the road goes below. A van carrying goods overturned on the road. Two BJP vans carrying people to see Vajpayee stopped. Forty young men jumped out. They tied ropes and pulled the van up. They had gained two more votes -- that of thedriver and the cleaner of the van. Here the BJP definitely stands to gain a lead. It has a majority here.
During his speech here Vajpayee promised to help release 19 fishermen languishing in a Pakistan jail. If he can do that before the elections, nothing can stop Radhakrishnan from winning. All Vajpayee perhaps has to do is to import a few hundred tonnes of sugar from Nawaz Sharif's mills and the Kanyakumari fishermen will be home free.
Thiruvattar was represented by the DMK MLA Albin who died in office. His wife is standing in the by-election, to be held along with the LS election. They sympathy factor will help both the wife and the BJP.
Colachel is lush and green. It looks like a densely populated forest -- but only the variety that develops coconuts grow here. There is plenty of water. It doesn't look like Tamil Nadu, more like god's own country just across.
Colachel voters are not sure about who they'll vote for.
"We will decide. There is a lot of time yet," one of them says, nodding eagerly.
Pon Radhakrishnan is a very rich landlord. He enjoys a lot of goodwill but always lost the elections due to the Christians vote.
A local says, "If he doesn't in this time - he'll never ever win."
Dennis has represented this constituency in the past but the scales are certainly titled toward the BJP this time. It certainly helps having a PM canvass for you.
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