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Key Madurai constituency goes to by-poll
S Singan in Madurai | October 09, 2006 15:28 IST
The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu will fight for the Madurai central Assembly constituency on Wednesday.
The by-poll in the prestigious constituency was necessitated by the death of former Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister and veteran DMK leader P T R Palanivelrajan.
The poll is also seen as a litmus test for the ruling front, five months after it assumed office.
DMK's Ghouse Basha is taking on AIADMK's Rajan Chellappa.
According to political observers, an election had never been fought so seriously here.
Several DMK ministers and 10 former AIADMK ministers are camping in the city.
As electioneering reached its peak, both fronts accused each other of distributing money to voters and engaging in violence. There was even an allegation that a former AIADMK minister, Madhusoodhanan, was roughed up and paraded half naked.
Police filed cases against 40 AIADMK workers, including some former ministers, and 54 DMK men in poll-related cases even as the Election Commission warned of stringent action against those indulging in malpractices.
DMK leaders are listing out development works in the city to seek votes. They also hope fulfillment of poll promises by the present government would turn tides in their favour.
"We will win on the basis of our work and achievements. The Rs 600 crore worth development works, including the Vaigai river development and an underground drainage scheme, have been undertaken during the DMK regime," said party district secretary Veluchamy.
Chief Minister M K Karunandhi, AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko have visited the city to give a boost to the campaigning.
Jayalalithaa alleged that law and order has deteriorated and violence was being unleashed against her party workers.
Karunanidhi countered the charge and said that some AIADMK bigwigs were arrested on charges of distributing money but they escaped from custody on September 6 night.
Meanwhile, the AIADMK leaders expressed confidence. "The by-election would prove lucky for the AIADMK," said former minister Vishwanathan.
Though the Congressmen were a little upset over losing their traditional constituency, which the party contested before Palanivelrajan was allotted the seat in the May Assembly polls, they are working for the DMK-led front.
The DMK candidate, Basha, is expecting good support from Muslim, Dalit and Christian vote banks. With 22,000 dalits and DPI leader Thirumavalavan switching over to the DMK side, the scales could be tilted in favour of the DMK candidate, observers said.
Similarly, AIADMK's Chellappa is banking on the support of voters of his Mukkulathor community besides Muslims and Dalits.
The Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam of actor Vijayakant has also put up a candidate.
The actor is actively campaigning in the city, where he has a huge fan base.
Vijayakant, who attracts huge crowds, has alleged that both the DMK and AIADMK were not confident of winning the elections and were resorting to the uncivilised politics of paying money to voters.