Campaign Trail/A Ganesh Nadar
V Gopalsamy may walk away with Sivakasi
Sivakasi is a world famous town, thanks to its printing and
firecracker industry. It is also infamous for its child labour.
Sadly, however, child labour is not an issue in this election, nor has it been one in any earlier election.
Sivakasi comprises Koilpatti, Rajapalayam, Sattur, Sivakasi, Srivilliputur
and Rajapalayam and has a little over 1.2 million voters with women outnumbering men.
In the last election, which was won by CPI candidate Alagirisamy,
the first three candidates polled over 200,000 votes each, with only a slim margin separating them. While the AIADMK lost by 23,000 votes, 'Vaiko' -- as Marulmarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary V Gopalsamy likes to call himself --
was behind by 10,000 votes only.
This time round it's a straight fight between Alagiriswamy and
Both are Naickers, which is the majority community
here. This constituency is dominated by Telugu-speaking Naidus
Reddiars. Only Virudhunagar has a sizeable number of Nadars who are very
The frequent caste clashes in the southern districts have disturbed
this constituency regularly. Both Dalits and Thevars who
were involved in the clashes blame the government for being indifferent.
While the Thevars are expected to vote for the AIADMK front, the
Dalit vote will be garnered by the Puthiya Tamilagam.
Both Alagirisamy and Vaiko are going all out.
One voter grumbled, "Alagirisamy come to our street yesterday.
I don't know how he found my street, I haven't seen him for 18 months. I'll vote for Vaiko."
There are many large towns in this constituency, and while the urban voter
is expected to vote for Alagirisamy, the rural ones will plumb for Vaiko.
The Sivakasi Nadars, among the richest in this constituency are
supporting the DMK Front's candidate. This is the first time I am seeing
industrialists support a Communist. Perhaps it is to do with Jayalalitha's
openly siding with the Thevars whereby she has lost the support of all
other communities in Tamil Nadu.
Compared to other places, the election is quiet in Sivakasi. The
people say this is because both the AIADMK and the DMK have
not put up their own candidates. To see high-pitched battles the two Dravidian parties
need to be at each other's throats.
In the last election Vaiko put out a list of Jayalalitha's properties.
This time he is publicising Karunanidhi's properties. The one thing is that
he does both with elan.
Outside Sivakasi's main bus stop the Puthiya Tamilagan was
holding a meeting. The speaker was telling his 100-strong crowd: "This hand is SC,
this other hand is a Thevar. If they come together, no force in
this state can shake us, no fellow can become chief minister
without us." Obviously the Puthiya Tamilagan has
never heard of the election code warning against caste-based appeals.
Despite the many industries where the Communists have a solid
votebank among the workers, Vaiko is expected to win. A lot of people want him to win because they feel he is a good
parliamentarian, even if a trifle controversial.
Like Jaya's alleged corruption. Vaiko's alleged LTTE connections do not seem to
matter in this election.
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