Thursday, April 14, 2011

Campaign ends for April 13 south India polls

Chennai/Thiruvanthapuram, Apr 11 : A high-pitch, often acrimonious and below the belt, campaigning for the April 13 assembly polls in two southern states of Tamil Naduand Kerala along with the Union Territory of Puducherry came to an end Monday evening.

While election campaign in TamilNadu turned into a slanging match between Jayalalithaa'sAIADMK and the ruling DMK with both parties' leaders trading personal attacks and inviting the rebuke of the Election Commission, in Kerala the presence and remarks of Rahul Gandhi provoked some sarcastic comments of the ruling communists.

In both states it is going to be a close contest, poll pundits predict.

While Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin allegedly attacked Jayalalithaa over her single status, Jayalalithaa was pulled up by the EC earlier for alleged personal attacks on DMK leader and chief minister M Karunanidhi.

The election in Tamil Nadu was also called a mixie-grinder poll this time owing to the freebies promised by the ruling DMK and the opposition AIADMK.

They all promised voters mixie, grinder, laptop and washing machine, even fans and even goats. It rained freebies in this election in Tamil Nadu.

While both parties wooed voters with freebies they harped before media on their growth oriented election manifestos.

J Jayalalithaa said her party will garner no less than 218 seats in the 234-member Tamil Nadu assembly, claiming a tidal wave of support for her and a cyclonic storm of anger against her rival DMK led by M Karunanidhi.

“I am very confidence that our alliance will sweep the polls,” the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader said at a campaign trail interview recently.

She said while opinion polls have predicted 164 to 184 seats for her alliance, she will bag around 218 seats in her own assessment.

“The main issue is the all pervasive corruption indulged by Karunanidhi [Tamil Nadu chief minister and the DMK head], his family members, and the DMK,” she said, adding that people would vote against the domination of one family in the state.

She said all theories supporting DMK, reeling under the slur of 2G scam allegedly enacted by party leader A Raja, will be gone with the wind.

AIADMK is fighting the polls with alliance partners like the Left parties and the DMDK of actor-turned-politician Vijayakant.

While AIADMK has fielded candidates in 160 seats, the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) is contesting in 41 seats.

Karunanidhi, on the other hand, said he would return as the chief minister. Karunanidhi-led Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) is in alliance with Congress.

While Congress is contesting in 63 seats, DMK is contesting 121 seats, while its partners PMK is fighting in 30, VCK 10, KMK 7, IUML two and MMK one.

The total electorate in Tamil Nadu is 4.6 crore. Altogether 2,773 candidates are in the fray.

The big shots in this elections are chief minister M Karunanidhi and his sworn rival Jayalalithaa. All eyes will also be on Karunanidhi's son M K Stalin and Jaya's alliance partner DMDK leader and actor Vijayakanth.

In Kerala, the last moment campaigning turned feverish with the presence of Congress poster boy Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul, the youth face of Indian politicians, urged voters to support his party claiming that only Congress has the right mix of youth and experience.

He took a dig at the Left by pointing out the age of Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan. He said Achuthanandan would be 93 year old by next elections, sparking a war-of-words.

After Rahul commented on Achuthanandan advanced age, the veteran Left leader hit back calling the young Congress MP an ‘Amul baby’.

“Is it my fault that I am 87 and even at this age I am going on like this?.” Achuthanandan questioned Rahul.

Achuthanandan further added that by the age of 16 he was fighting the British and questioned, “Please tell me where was Rahul Gandhi (politically) before he was 40 years.”

“The Amul baby has come here to campaign for some Amul baby candidates of the Congress party,” he added.

In the 140-seat Kerala assembly polls, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF)-led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is pitted against the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) which did well in the last Lok Sabha polls in 2009.

The LDF currently controls a majority of 99 seats (out of the 140 seats) in the state legislative assembly.

After the 2006 polls, veteran CPI-M leader V.S. Achuthanandan is heading the LDF government in Kerala as the CM.

In Kerala a total of 971 candidates are in the fray. The total electorate is 2.31 crore.

In Puducherry, a low key union territory compared to Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the campaign came to a close Monday evening as well.

It is Congress versus a former Congress chief minister in Puducherry.

In Puducherry, ruled by the Congress, the fight is between the ruling party and its ally DMK and the alliance of AIADMK with All India N. R Congress (AINRC).

AINRC is floated by former Congress chief minister N Rangasamy that promises to "ensure an excellent government and full statehood for the Union Territory of Puducherry."

While the Congress is aiming to return to power for the third consecutive term in the 30-member Legislative Assembly, the opposition left no stone unturned to challenge them.

Rangasamy has been projected as the chief ministerial candidate of the AIADMK-AINRC combine.

Claiming that there would be no discrimination for Puducherry if they come to power, as against the theory that a small union territory like Puducherry will benefit if governed by the party at the centre, the N.R. Congress with AIADMK is taking on the Congress on the issue of 2G scam and price rise.

Congress and its chief minister V Vaithilingam on the other hand said Rangasamy during his regime had failed to procure allotted funds from the centre owing to lack of planning and initiative.

Congress also tom-toms the improved law and order situation in Puducherry in the past years.

Congress is fighting the polls in alliance with the DMK, PMK and VCK parties.

Congress is fighting in 17 constituencies and its ally DMK in 10. PMK is contesting two while VCK is fighting one.

In the rival camp, All India NR Congress is contesting 17 seats while ally AIADMK has fielded candidates in 10. CPI, CPI-M and DMDK have fielded candidates in one seat each.

Puducherry has a total electorate of 8.05 lakh.

A total of 187 candidates are in the fray this time. Of them 162 are in Puducherry district which consists of Puducherry, Mahe and Yanam. The rest are in Karaikal district.

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