KARUR: With the AMMK fielding a Muslim businessman for the Aravakurichi bypoll, a split of minority votes in Pallappatti, a traditional DMK bastion where over 20 per cent of voters are Muslims, could tilt the balance against the principal opposition party’s candidate, V Senthil Balaji.
All three major parties – the AIADMK, DMK and the AMMK – have given special attention to Pallappatti. The town panchayat with 28,000 Muslim voters is considered key to deciding the outcome of the election in Aravakurichi, a constituency that has sent four candidates from the minority community to the Assembly between 1991 and 2011. There are 13,000 Muslim voters in other parts of the constituency with an electorate of 2.05 lakh.
The AIADMK has deputed MP A Anwar Raja, A Thamizh Magan Hussain, ministers Nilofer Kafeel and KC Veeramani, and a few other party heavyweights for election work. Campaigners of the ruling party here reiterate that “ideology and coalitions are two different things” and that the party has always been “minority-friendly”. Karur MP M Thambi Durai’s opposition to the bill that criminalised the triple talaq is often cited to buttress the pro-Muslim credentials of the party, which is in alliance with the BJP and the PMK. “In the 2016 election, over 17,000 votes were polled in Pallappatti town, and Senthil Balaji, who contested on the AIADMK ticket, got 5,860 of them. We are working hard to secure more votes in this election,” said AIADMK town secretary Thottam Abuthahir.
The AIADMK has promised to give three cents of land to the homeless people in Pallappatti.
Balaji, now with the DMK, was the first to promise three cents of land to the homeless in the constituency. Incidentally, AIADMK leader and Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar termed Balaji’s promise as impracticable on Tuesday. On the other hand, Balaji is banking on the town’s traditional affinity with the DMK. Also, the party’s former MLA KC Palanisamy enjoys considerable support among the Muslims.
“The AIADMK’s coalition with the BJP will not go down well with the people here,” a DMK functionary said, agreeing, however, that the AMMK’s PH Shahul Hameed may split DMK’s Muslim votes.
Hameed, a popular figure among the community, said he would get 70-80 per cent of the Muslim votes. “The Dalits and other communities will also support me. While the AIADMK is in alliance with the BJP, there is no guarantee that the DMK will not join hands with the BJP after the election results,” he told Express.
3,000 cops deployed
Karur: Around 3,000 police personnel have been deployed to monitor the bypoll in Aravakurichi, said DGP (Elections) Ashutosh Shukla on Wednesday after and reviewing arrangements.