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|February 21, 1998|
Nagercoil all set to elect first BJP MP from Tamil Nadu
A Ganesh Nadar
This constituency comprises of Colachel, Killiyoor, Nagercoil, Padmanabhapuram,Thiruvattar and Vilavancode. It has over 100,000 voters, with men outnumbering women. The Tamil Maanila Congress's N Dennis, the Bharatiya Janata Party's P Radhakrishnan and the Congress's P S Stanislaus are the big names battling for Nagercoil.
Compared to other constituencies, it is quiet here. For every propaganda van that Dennis has let loose on the road, the BJP has two. The Congress is nowhere in the picture.
When it comes to posters and graffiti, the BJP again leaves its opponents in the cold. The lotus can be seen on every available wall. Dennis comes a very poor second. The Congress have managed to cover only 10 per cent of the walls.
People say the BJP, followed by the Communists for Dennis, are going all out to win the seat. Quite unlike the DMK and AIADMK, who seem to be taking the polls quite un-seriously.
Dennis has represented this constituency since 1980. And, like any normal Indian MP, he has not improved it in any way. How could he, when people who have problems generally approach the district collector, the local tahsildar or the block development officer? Yet, Dennis is a strong contender for the seat. In 1996, he beat Radhakrishnan by 28,000 votes. This time, he also expects the 130,000 votes polled by JD candidate Mohammed Ismail.
But Nagercoil's strong Christian community may vote against him. To add to his woes, the Congress candidate is trying to garner support from religious heads. The latter has only one lament. "If only Sonia had come..."
An old man said, "This time the BJP will definitely win. If they don't, they will never win ever." A young man by his side sneered. "Impossible, the Christians will never vote for the BJP and you cannot win here without their support."
The voting figure will be low; many people refused to talk about politics. They looked disgusted when you mention votes. The people who said they would vote for the BJP also said they were fed up with Dennis ''because he never did anything."
The BJP has several advantages in this constituency. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is very active here. Besides, 47-year-old Radhakrishnan is a local man. He is unmarried and known to be of exemplary character.
In Tamil Nadu, if a politician is not married, he is immediately equated with the legendary Kamaraj Nadar. He is also believed to be honest because he does not need to gather property for his heirs. Anyway, Radhakrishnan is rich enough to sneer at bribes. People say his trees yield 200,000 coconuts every other month.
The BJP workers are all charged up. Last time, they lost by just 28,000 votes. This time, they believe that, with allied support, they will easily win this seat. The Coimbatore blasts have certainly added to their hope.
A section of the TMC feels if sitting MLA Kumaradas had been nominated instead of Dennis, their chances would have been brighter.
Judging by their attitude, it looks like the Congress has already lost hope.
There are three Independents in the fray, but they are not visible. The absence of the Puthiya Tamilagam party has added to the existing peace.
All in all, it looks like Nagercoil will send Tamil Nadu's first BJP MP to Parliament.
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