The last leg of assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry on Monday will decide the fate of chief ministers J Jayalalithaa and Oommen Chandy, and their arch rivals M Karunanidhi and VS Achuthanandan in multi-cornered contests in their states.
Counting of votes in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry -- where rival candidates fought a gruelling two-month campaign in peak summer along with West Bengal and Assam -- will be taken up on May 19 to decide the outcome of what is being described as ‘mini’ general elections.
Here are 10 things to know about the candidates and the parties in the ongoing polls:
1) Age was never a bar in politics. But in this year’s Kerala and Tamil Nadu assembly polls, the veterans have further pushed the bar. Achuthanandan, 93, and Karunanidhi, 91, are in the fray as the senior-most candidates in the respective states. Both are CM-hopefuls in their parties—the CPI(M) and the DMK.
2) In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, voters don’t retain a party for two consecutive terms. From 1970, Kerala has switched between the communists and the Congress-led coalition every five years. The neighbouring Tamil Nadu followed the same pattern since 1980 between Karunanidhi’s DMK and Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK.
3) Tamil superstars Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan stayed away from active politics despite a huge, dedicated fan-following. But Vijayakanth, who attained the nickname “Captain” after his 1991 movie Captain Prabhakaran, thought otherwise. Popularly called as the “black MGR”, Vijayakanth set up DMDK and this would be its second assembly election. In this poll, he is seen as the X-factor that can change many equations.
4) The incumbent Ommen Chandy government is curbing on liquor consumption in Kerala. In Tamil Nadu, hard drinks flow freely now but may become a thing of the past if Jayalalithaa retains power. She has already vouched for prohibition in the line of Gujarat and Bihar.
5) For the first time, Jayalalithaa’s party has put up candidates in all 234 seats. Although some of the candidates belong to alliance parties but they all have agreed to contest using Amma’s electoral symbol of two leaves.
6) Luring voters with cash in Tamil Nadu has become a major issue. The Election Commission has already postponed polling in two constituencies. The police recovered at least Rs 100 crore unaccounted cash from different parts of the state.
7) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to expand its foothold in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu. But in Puducherry, the union territory undergoing polling, the BJP has virtually no stake. It’s a fight between All India NR Congress, the Congress, DMK and the AIADMK.
8) Karunanidhi’s DMK has suffered a split after he threw elder son Alagiri out of the party after the latter’s rebellion against his brother Stalin. Alagiri used to manage the southern Tamil Nadu for the party.
9) The common theory is if the BJP does well in Kerala, it will dent the Left’s prospects to return to power in the God’s own Country.
10) Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa, the arch rivals to Tamil Nadu politics, both have a connection with films. Jayalalithaa was a leading lady in Tamil films while Karunanidhi is credited with writing lyrics and scripts of films.