Three out of three for TR Baalu? Or will we see a Sriperumbudur surprise?

Team Baalu appears overconfident. But his rivals remind that he is 82 and has undergone a heart surgery. In response, Nolambur Rajan, a DMK functionary, shot back, "He (Baalu) is hale and energetic unlike you and me."
 TR Baalu and A Raja at Parliament House during the special session in Delh
TR Baalu and A Raja at Parliament House during the special session in Delh(Photo | PTI)

In the Sriperumbudur parliamentary constituency, old warhorse TR Baalu of the DMK is seeking re-election. Anti-incumbency could have been a factor for the DMK. But then, the AIADMK is merely a shadow of its former self.

Gone certainly are the days when it was led by the indomitable J Jayalalithaa. As for the BJP, to put it simply, they are in Dravida land.

Team Baalu appears confident -- overly so in fact. But his rivals remind that he is 82 and has undergone a heart surgery. In response, Nolambur Rajan, a DMK functionary, shot back, "He (Baalu) is hale and energetic unlike you and me."

Rajan expects Baalu to retain the seat with the highest margin in the state. Rajan's dream would or wouldn't come true. Overconfidence can at times prove costly.

In a chat with The New Indian Express, D Nagappan, an AIADMK functionary reeled out a list of issues that people are bedeviled with since the DMK government under MK Stalin came to power. It ranged from rise in prices of essential commodities to law and order problems.

When reminded that this is a Lok Sabha election and not an Assembly poll, Nagappan quipped, "They (DMK) badly need a blow to dent their arrogance. We wish this election will deliver that."

'Poi prasaram'

The BJP-led alliance, on the other hand, is targetting the DMK government for allegedly being a stumbling block in the way of the welfare schemes announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaching the masses.

D Illayaraja, a BJP cadre, claimed that when the beneficiaries of central government schemes visit the banks to avail the benefits they are confronted by server problems.

Moreover, he explained, "When Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised Rs 15 lakh in each bank account, he didn't mean cash. He meant that the amount that is due to the people will come back to them when black money was got rid of. For instance, I’m a Adi Dravidar. For 30 years, I didn’t have a house. But lately, I have a house availed under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U), scheme."

He went on to claim that "the DMK-led allies are indulging in 'poi prasaram' (false propaganda). The MK Stalin-led government has not fulfilled any of the promises made during the assembly polls."

This was echoed by AIADMK functionaries Ettiyappan and M Jayakumar.

"The government employees in the state are bitter towards the DMK government. For instance, the government didn’t provide the dearness allowance promised for one lakh transport workers," Jayakumar claimed.

Team AIADMK believes that severing ties with the BJP will help the front in garnering minoritiy votes. The fact that former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam is not part of the AIADMK alliance will not have any impact on the front, the team claimed.

AIADMK's Ettiyappan said that the Katchatheevu issue, raised by Prime Minister Modi, would have an impact on the voters. AIADMK candidates stand to gain because the only leader who had taken a correct stand on the issue, by even going to the Supreme Court, was the late Chief Minister and AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa, he added.

'Leader can win from anywhere in India'

Nolambur Rajan, meanwhile, quipped, "TR Baalu is one of the few leaders  who can contest in any of the 543 constituencies in the country and still win. He is not a candidate. We call him leader."

When asked about the rise in the prices of essential commodities, Rajan shot back saying it's because of GST. Tamil Nadu is a state that leads in GST collection, he noted.

Baalu was elected to the parliament five times, thrice from South Chennai and twice from Sriperumbudur.

The six assembly segments in Sriperumbudur parliamentary constituency are, Maduravoyal, Ambattur and Alandur in Chennai and Sriperumbudur in Kancheepuram district and Pallavaram and Tambaram in Chengalpattu district.

The assembly segment of Kancheepuram has a Congress legislator while all the other segments were pocketed by the DMK in the last assembly elections.

(File | ANI)
 TR Baalu and A Raja at Parliament House during the special session in Delh
Who will get the Tirunelveli halwa this time?

If we look at the Lok Sabha polls data, AIADMK had won the seat in 1977. The DMK won the seat in 1980, and 1984. The Indian National Congress (INC) won the seat in 1989 and 1991 while the DMK won in 1996. AIADMK wrested the seat back in 1998. The DMK won in 1999, 2004 and 2009.

In 2009, TR Baalu was the candidate and he emerged victorious. The seat was regained by the AIADMK in 2014. Baalu won the seat again in 2019. He polled 7,93,281 votes as against the 2,85,326 votes polled by his nearest rival A Vaithilingam of the PMK.

An MNM boost in the offing

Interestingly, M Sridhar of Makkal Needhi Maiyam led by actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan had polled 1,35,525 votes in that election. This time around, MNM is part of the DMK-led INDIA bloc. This is bound to help boost Baalu's vote share. Having said that electoral history shows that Sriperumbudur can be dicey.

Baalu is facing G Premkumar, a doctor by profession, of the AIADMK and VN Venugopal of Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), an ally of the BJP.

The constituency has a total of 23,58,526 voters of whom 11,69,344 are men and 11,88,754 are women.

It looks like a Goliath vs Davids battle in Sriperumbudur. But then let the biblical tale not be forgotten...

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