Campaign Trail/A Ganesh Nadar
Swamy fires at CPI-M from Jaya's shoulder
In the temple city of Tamil Nadu, the Bharatiya Janata Party does not have a presence.
Madurai is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu, and at its centre
is the massive Meenakshi Amman temple with four gigantic gopurams
dominating the skyline. Around the temple the streets are named
after the twelve Tamil months.
The temple is famous for its 1,000-pillar hall. The
Tirumal Naickar's (former king) palace is also a popular tourist
centre, with a putative underground passage from the temple
to this palace.
The Vaigai (as the Kaveri is called here) flows sluggishly through Madurai. This prestigious constituency
includes Tiruparankuntram, Madurai West, East and Central,
Samayanallur and Melur.
As I said, in the temple city of Tamil Nadu the BJP does not have a presence.
The important candidates in the fray are A G S Ram Baby of the Tamil Maanila Congress, Dr Subramanian Swamy of the Janata Party and P Mohan of the CPI-M.
The last time round Dr Swamy polled almost 150,000 votes riding the crest
of an anti-Jaya wave. And this time he is fighting the poll with Jaya as his
main canvasser. If there are eyebrows raised over this, well, the Tamil voter has seen worse to be really surprised at such somersaults.
Enquiries reveal that the last time Dr Swamy did not spend
much money. In fact, in many places he hadn't even paid for the vans that
were used for canvassing. This time there is enough evidence of money being thrown around, perhaps it has to do with his newfound allies.
Normally, a Jayalalitha or Karunanidhi's meeting attracts crowds, but not so this time in Madurai. With Dr Swamy at the mike no one seemed interested, but when Jaya came forward the crowds grew visibly, although they stayed much short of the dais. Probably caution has grown since Coimbatore...
Like the Tenkasi Congress candidate, Dr Swamy is also
using Rajnikanth in his posters, even if there is nothing official about it.
Despite the cash flow from the Swamy camp, locals say
the real fight is between Ram Babu and the CPI-M candidate, with the
former expected to win easily even though the majority community,
the Thevars, is supporting the AIADMK front candidate. Another
comment that is frequently heard is: "If Kalimuthu (the
AIADMK candidate in Sivaganga) had stood in Madurai, he has a better
chance of beating Ram Babu because he too is a Maduraite."
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