One Veteran, 8 Freshers to Face Test in West
AIADMK general secretary and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday unveiled a mixed bag of candidates for the nine Parliamentary constituencies in the eight western districts. Barring P R Sundaram, who has been fielded in Namakkal, the rest are not prominently known outside their limited political territories.
Incidentally, none of the three sitting AIADMK MPs – S Semmalai (Salem), Sivasami (Tirupur) and Sugumar (Pollachi) – have been re-nominated.
Sugumar was recently caught on camera in a sting operation by investigative website ‘Cobrapost’ while allegedly accepting money to back a fictitious oil exploration company.
Five of the candidates – A P Nagarajan (Coimbatore), P S Mohan (Dharmapuri), V Pannerselvam (Salem), Selvakkumara Chinnayan (Erode) and C Gopalakrishnan (Nilgiris – Reserved) are lawyers by qualification. V Sathyabhama, who has been fielded in Tirupur, will be AIADMK’s lone woman candidate from the western region.
Sundaram, the Namakkal candidate, is a two-time MLA from Rasipuram constituency and has the distinction of being one among the four who won the Assembly elections in 1996 when the AIADMK faced a virtual rout.
While Jayalalithaa has fielded C Mahendran from Pollachi, in Krishnagiri she has given the ticket to K Ashok Kumar, the only non-graduate who would enter the fray on behalf of the AIADMK in western Tamil Nadu.
During the 2004 and 2009 Parliamentary elections, Jayalalithaa had given the Krishnagiri seat to Nanjegowde, a lawyer, who was in 1996 infamously mistaken for Sivarasan, the one-eyed jack who had masterminded former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.
Since he was defeated twice, Jayalalithaa has replaced him with Ashok Kumar.
In 2009, the AIADMK had contested from five seats in the region - Salem, Tirupur, Pollachi, Krishnagiri and Namakkal.
Its candidates were defeated in the last two constituencies. Its ally MDMK and CPM had won in Erode and Coimbatore respectively and two candidates of its other ally, the PMK, who had entered the fray in Dharmapuri and Nilgiris (Scheduled Caste), were defeated.
The DMK’s candidates had won in Krishnagiri (E G Sugavanam), Namakkal (Gandhiselvan), Dharmapuri (Thamaraiselvan) and Nilgiris (A Raja); and lost in Pollachi. Its ally Congress was defeated in Erode, Coimbatore, Salem and Tirupur.
While the AIADMK has taken the lead in announcing its candidates, the list in the western region could witness a minor shakeup as Jayalalithaa has made it clear that if any of the seats are allotted to the Left allies, her candidates would be withdrawn.
Though at present Coimbatore is the lone seat represented by the Left’s P R Natarajan (Communist Party of India- Marxist), the possibility of the communists staking claim to two other seats – Tirupur and Dharmapuri where there is a measurable presence of comrades, cannot be ruled out.