In a shot in the arm for 31-year-old Maragatham Kumaravel, the AIADMK nominee for the Kancheepuram reserved Lok Sabha constituency, over 200 local pastors in the temple town on Wednesday extended their support to her candidature.
Ask the young woman how she secured the coveted seat, her face lights up and she gushes: “A million thanks to Amma.” Maragatham’s family, both her parents and in-laws, have been associated with the AIADMK for several decades, holding posts in the various wings of the party. Her own involvement with the party began when she was 18. Loyalty appears to have paid off!
Female voters outnumber men by around 4,000 in the constituency. It comprises Assembly segments of Chengalpattu, Thiruporur, Cheyyur (SC), Maduranthakam (SC), Uthiramerur and Kancheepuram, having a total of 14,41,391 voters: 7,22,606 female, 7,18,630 male and 155 others. A newly formed reserved seat during the 2008 delimitation exercise, its sitting MP is a Congressman, P Viswanathan.
With election fever yet to grip the temple town, the usual poll paraphernalia of colourful posters, fluttering party flags, huge banners and zooming vehicles were conspicuously absent. However, while other parties are still lagging behind, Maragatham appears to have had a head start what with the Chief Minister herself launching her poll campaign from here.
On Wednesday, Dr V Maitreyan, AIADMK’s Rajya Sabha MP and in-charge of the constituency, made a whirlwind trip across the entire area, inaugurating a string of election offices of the party, starting from Walajabad, as party workers burst firecrackers and raised slogans. Come Thursday, Maragatham will begin her campaign with celebrities like actor ‘Vennira Adai’ Nirmala and Nirmala Periyasamy lending her support.
The constituency appears poised for a multi-cornered contest. Nevertheless, Maitreyan claimed that the polls were merely to decide the runners-up because the people had already decided the winner: the AIADMK. “We are approaching the people under the leadership of ‘Amma’ with the message of peace, prosperity and progress for the country,” he said on the party’s poll strategy.
With the contest expected to be stiff, crucial support for the party’s candidate has come from the Christian community in the town. Over 200 pastors gathered at a church pledged their support to the Chief Minister.
M Prakash, moderator/bishop of the Synod of the Independent Churches of India, said the AIADMK was the only party that had love and compassion for the minorities. Prakash, who is the chairman of the State Minorities Commission, said the Chief Minister was the only leader who sanctioned subsidy for pilgrimage to Jerusalem. “She also wrote to the Centre, seeking the inclusion of Dalit Christians in the list of Scheduled Castes,” he recalled.