Caste equation, frequent powers cuts and alleged corruption at the local level are some of the issues that could decide the fate of DMK-Congress candidates in this south Tamil Nadu district, where Opposition AIADMK is sweating it out to break the ruling combine's momentum.
Tirunelveli now has 10 seats after the delimitation exercise, which consumed the Cheranmahadevi constituency and AIADMK and MDMK could win only one seat each in the 2006 combine in the pro-DMK wave that swept the district enabling the now ruling combine to bag six constituencies.
The AIADMK, this time, is leaving no stone unturned to put up an impressive show in the district where it is contesting seven seats. Samathuva Makkal Katchi chief and actor Sarath Kumar is contesting from Tenkasi on the AIADMK symbol of 'two leaves'. Its ally DMDK is contesting two seats.
People in almost all constituencies complain about power cuts, which ranges from 3 to 6 hours daily, and corruption at the local level.
Assembly Speaker R Aavudaiyappan and high-profile IT Minister Poongothai Aladi Aruna are facing tough fight from their AIADMK rivals in Ambasamudaram and Alangulam respectively. While Subbiah is opponent for the Speaker, Aruna is locking horns with P G Rajendran, who in 2001 defeated her father and DMK veteran Aladi Aruna from the same seat.
Aavudaiyappan and Aruna are facing dissidence from their partymen which could go against them. People in their constituencies also have complaints against them ranging from being non-accessible to not doing anything "constructively" in the past five years.
Caste equation is also playing against many of the DMK veterans like Karuppasamy Pandian, who is facing Sarath Kumar in Tenkasi, which is now dominated by Nadars after the delimitation exercise. Many in this district consider this as the 'mother of all battles' as the former AIADMK strongman will take on the film actor, who has the backing of his community Nadars.
Pandian belongs to another dominant community -Thevars - and is banking on the Muslim votes to retain the constituency. Besides Nadar votes, Kumar is banking on the SC vote bank to win the seat. He had tasted defeat in 1998 when he contested the Lok Sabha polls from Tirunelveli.