With the Nilgiris Lok Sabha seat going to polls on Thursday, all major political parties are banking on the Kannada votes, which are a deciding factor in the constituency.
The Nilgiris (SC) constituency, with six Assembly segments, is dominated by Kannada speaking people at Bhavanisagar, Gudalur, Ooty and Mettupalayam. Coonoor and Avinashi Assembly segments are home to a less number of Kannada speaking population.
Majority of these Kannadigas had migrated from Mandya and parts of Chamarajnagar districts as labourers. Apart from Nilgiris, parts of Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Erode, Coimbatore and Tirupur also have a good presence of Kannada population.
Nilgiris is seeing a high-profile contest this time as 2G-scam accused A Raja from the DMK is in the fray. He is facing a tough fight from C Gopalakrishnan (AIADMK) and P Gandhi (Congress).
Raja and Gopalakrishnan are campaigning extensively in Kannada dominated areas of Talawadi, Hoogavadi, Gattadavi, Kongahalli, Sirimugai and other places under Bhavanisagar Assembly segment. The DMK has roped in Kapanna, the party’s block secretary who speaks Kannada, while the AIADMK has brought in Kempamani, a local leader who too is a Kannadiga.
To attract the Kannada voters, leaders address them in Kannada. The AIADMK leaders are making an all-out effort to take advantage of BJP’s absence, maintaining that the saffron party should support them so the anti-Raja votes get consolidated.
The DMK, which had managed to bring many leaders from Karnataka to campaign during the previous Assembly elections, has no prominent leaders for campaigning in pockets dominated by Kannadigas this time. Meanwhile, Congress leaders in Mysore and Chamrajnagar said they have not received any intimation from the KPCC and TNCC to campaign for the party candidate there.
Balu, a resident of Talawadi, said many voters are in favour of the BJP and party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. “It is unfortunate BJP candidate S Gurumurthy’s papers were rejected. Hence, voters are forced to chose a candidate from a different party,” he said. The BJP’s absence, he said, was a blessing in disguise for the AIADMK.