Campaigning in Tamil Nadu ends Monday

April 10th, 2011 - 9:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Chennai, April 10 (IANS) Rival fronts and other political parties in Tamil Nadu are doing their best to woo more voters with campaigning for the April 13 assembly elections set to end Monday.

Around 4.59 crore voters in Tamil Nadu are set to elect a new 234-member assembly Wednesday and campaigning has to stop 48 hours ahead of polling. However, door-to-door campaigning is permitted.

Braving the heat, the 86-year-old Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M.Karunanidhi and his arch-rival but much younger AIADMK chief J.Jayalalithaa criss-crossed the state, campaigning for their party candidates as well as that of their allies.

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.

Most of the family members of Karunanidhi campaigned for DMK-led alliance, while 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.30 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.

Congress cadres are also upset at the party’s state leadership and state chief K.V.Thangkabalu came under much attack. However, he is confident of the party’s chances.

“We will surprise everybody by our performance in the elections,” Thangkabalu told IANS.

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

Actor-turned-politician and DMDK founder A. Vijayakant and his wife V. Premalatha campaigned hard for the AIADMK-led alliance. The DMDK is contesting 41 seats.

National leaders of the two communist parties - Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury, Brinda Karat, A.B. Bardhan and D. Raja - also campaigned for the alliance.

All the constituents of AIADMK-led front addressed a massive rally in Coimbatore last week.

The two fronts have also unleashed star power in the campaign. While movie stars like Vaigai Chandrasekhar, S. Bagyaraj, D. Napolean (a union minister), Kushboo, N. Vadivelu, DMK MP J.K. Rithish (a DMK MP), S.Ve. Shekhar and Telugu hero Chiranjeevi sought votes for the DMK, the AIADMK used comedians Senthil and Singamuthu, Saravanan, Radha Ravi, Anand Raj, playback singer T.K. Kala, Gundu Kalyanam and director R.V. Udayakumar in its 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.

Owing to the stringent guidelines of the poll panel, the campaign was free of wall posters, loudspeakers and other disturbing features.

“This is one for the most silent elections ever held in Tamil Nadu in the recent times,” Vasantha Raghunathan, a home maker, told IANS.

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