Campaigning ends in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry

April 11th, 2011 - 10:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Chennai/Puducherry, April 11 (IANS) Electioneering in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry ended Monday with rival fronts and other political parties making a last minute effort to woo the voters.

As per Election Commission of India’s code of conduct, door-to-door campaigning will be allowed till Wednesday.

In Tamil Nadu, around 4.71 crore voters are set to elect a new 234-member assembly and in Puducherry around 810,000 voters are expected to elect a new 30-member assembly.

The 86-year-old Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M. Karunanidhi and his arch rival AIADMK General Secretary J. Jayalalithaa criss-crossed the state appealing to the voters for their party candidates as well as that of their allies.

On the last day of electioneering, Karunanidhi campaigned in his native Tiruvarur where he is seeking election for the first time in his more than seven-decade political life.
Interestingly it was March 23 at Tiruvarur under Karunanidhi’s leadership the DMK and its allies formally started their electioneering.

And on the last day of the electioneering, Karunanidhi wound up his campaigning at Tiruvarur seeking the people’s mandate for himself.

AIADMK leader J. Jayalalitha and Deputy Chief Minsiter M.K. Stalin campaigned here while DMDK leader A. Vijayakant wound up his campaign at Rishivandhiyam constituency where he is seeking election. The DMDK is contesting 41 seats.

The DMK is contesting 119 seats whereas the AIADMK is fighting it out in 160 seats. Both the parties are in straight contests in more than 80 seats.

The main campaign plank of the DMK-led alliance was its freebies and welfare schemes implemented during the past five years and promise of further freebies if voted back to power.

The DMK has offered a grinder or mixie to all households, laptops to students, free bus passes for senior citizens and other measures.

In response, the AIADMK promised much more freebies - fans, mixer-grinders for all households, laptops for school and college students, free rice, free bus passes for senior citizens, three cents land for poor to build a home and other measures.

The chief minister trained his guns at the Election Commission, which has been strictly implementing the model code of conduct and has seized unaccounted cash amounting to more than Rs.33 crore, reportedly meant for bribing voters.

In one meeting, he wondered whether it was he who is the chief minister or was the state ruled by the poll panel and in another, he said there is an undeclared emergency in the state.

On the other hand, Jayalalithaa cited the Rs.1.76 lakh crore 2G spectrum allocation scam to brand the DMK-Congress as corrupt. She also raised issues of the sharp rise in prices of essential items, severe power shortage, the poor law and order situation, unemployment, the dominance of Karunanidhi’s family members in media, film and other sectors.

For the Congress, contesting 63 seats in alliance with the DMK, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party chief Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi flew in to address election rallies in the state, though the party lagged in campaigning due to delays in selecting the candidates and dissensions.

Other allies of the DMK - the PMK, VCK, KNMK and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML)- and that of AIADMK - SMK, two left parties - also put up a spirited campaign.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is hoping to enter the state assembly for the first time, brought actress Hema Malini for campaigning, apart from leaders like L.K. Advani, party chief Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Narendra Modi.

In Puducherry the main fight is between the Congress led front comprising of the DMK, PMK and VCK and the AINRC-led front, including the AIADMK, DMDK, the Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M) and the Communist Party of India (CPI).

Bitten by the freebie bug, both the Congress the AINRC have been wooing their voters in Puducherry with attractive offers like free mobile phone, washing macine, refrigerator, water purifier and others.

The AINRC is contesting 17 seats, sharing the balance with alliance partners - AIADMK (10) and one each to the DMDK, the CPM and the CPI.

The Congress is also contesting 17 seats and has given 10 seats to the DMK, two to PMK and one to VCK.

The Congress party’s national leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Pranab Mukherjee, Gulam Nabi Azad as well as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi have campaigned in support of the ruling front.

Jayalalithaa campaigned in support of the AINRC-led alliance.

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