MK’s Campaign to Start from AIADMK Fort and Conclude in DMK Stronghold
Braving fragile health and the sweltering summer heat, the 89-year-old DMK president, M Karunanidhi, has decided to undertake a multi-phased whirlwind Parliamentary election tour of parts of Tamil Nadu from April 6 seeking support for candidates of the Democratic Progressive Alliance.
The veteran shall concentrate on garnering votes in west, central and northern parts of Tamil Nadu, including Chennai. During the last Parliamentary election, he had partly campaigned from his hospital bed in Chennai, where he was recuperating after a spinal surgery.
The campaign schedule has been drawn up strategically to ensure that the length and breadth of Tamil Nadu is covered through parallel tours undertaken by him and his son-cum-party treasurer M K Stalin, who has practically taken over the burden of electioneering for the DMK alliance.
While Stalin commenced his election tour from the southern district of Kanyakumari last week, Karunanidhi has chosen to start it from Coimbatore in western Tamil Nadu. However, unlike Stalin, who will travel across Tamil Nadu, his father has decided not to travel beyond Madurai in the south.
Analysts feel the choice of Coimbatore is significant as the party has been desperately seeking to wean over voters who have traditionally leaned towards the ruling AIADMK. The DMK’s earlier attempt to win the confidence of the people of the region by conducting the World Classical Tamil Conference in 2010 failed to yield the desired electoral results.
In the May 2011 Assembly elections, the party failed to win a single seat in the 10 constituencies in Coimbatore despite striking an alliance with the Kongunadu Munnetra Kazhagam (KNMK), which had polled over 15% votes in Coimbatore Parliamentary seat in 2009. In the western region, Karunanidhi will cover Coimbatore, Erode and Tirupur on April 6 and Salem on April 7.
Nilgiris, where the 2G scam-tainted former Union Telecom Minister A Raja has been fielded, is not on Karunanidhi’s itinerary. But Raja would be present at the public meeting in Coimbatore. He will not be touring the northwestern districts of Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Namakkal.
On April 10, he will tour Puducherry and the northern belt of Chidambaram and Cuddalore and the next day, the veteran would cover Mayiladuthurai and his home town Tiruvarur followed by Thanjavur and Tiruchi on April 12. Thuvarankurichi and Madurai will be covered on April 13.
After a two-day break, he would canvass votes in Sriperumbudur and Vellore on April 16 and proceed to Kancheepuram the next day.
Subsequently, on April 19, 20 and 21, he will focus on the three constituencies in Chennai apart from Tiruvallur.
The campaign in North, South and Central Chennai will be vital as the DMK has lost much ground in the urban constituencies over the past 15 years. The capital city, once considered the impregnable fortress of the party even during the times of the charismatic MGR, has been steadily invaded by the AIADMK since 2001.
Presently there is not a single Assembly segment in Chennai, which has not been breached by the ruling party.
In fact, in 2009, the DMK lost the South Chennai constituency to the AIADMK, the first time since 1996. Besides, during the last Assembly elections both Karunanidhi and Stalin were forced to scurry for safe seats. While Karunanidhi had to contest from the rural Tiruvarur constituency - migrating outside a Chennai Assembly seat after more than 40 years - Stalin managed to scrape through in Kolathur in Chennai by a slender margin of 2,423 votes.
That would explain why the veteran has devoted three days of campaigning to Chennai.