The heir apparent to DMK patriarch's political legacy in Tamil Nadu, his son and deputy chief minister MK Stalin, contesting for the first time in this new constituency carved out in North Chennai, is expected to win but is being made to work hard by the AIADMK candidate, Saidi Duraisamy who runs an IAS coaching centre for the poor.
Unlike Duraisamy who can spend his entire time campaigning for self, Stalin could only spend a day after filing his nomination papers when campaigning started late last month. But his wife, Durgavati has taken the plunge to seek votes on his behalf and is drawing good crowds. "Victory is certain, we are only interested to know what would be the margin," is how a DMK worker described the chances of Dalapathi, (commander) as Stalin is fondly referred to by his supporters and well wishers.
His father and chief minister M Karunanidhi has already declared him as his heir apparent saying that DMK workers and senior leaders had accepted him as a leader and that he had worked his way up through the years. Although never in doubt, the reiteration by DMK patriarch has added to Stalin's stature in the key constituency that is happy to bask in new found VIP status. "I am well aware of all the problems of Kolattur and will address them on a priority basis," Stalin said while campaigning in the constituency on Wednesday. He told the people that Jayalalithaa had never bothered to carry out any welfare schemes, the DMK had focused on the poor. She had even stopped several schemes and also reduced relief to poor women that the DMK had started.
It was after filing his nomination papers that Stalin had said that over and above the manifesto promises of free mixie or grinder, the people can look forward to washing machines and refrigerators, which had caught the imagination of the people. Stalin's chances were never in doubt in this DMK bastion, a middle class urban constituency with rural pockets on the outskirts of Chennai north.
It was from the area that now constitutes this constituency that DMK candidate and spokesperson TKS Elangovan got an unassailable lead during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Elangovan had polled some 25000 votes from this segment, which was one of the reasons for Stalin opting to shift from Thousand Lights constituency in central Chennai that he represented six times.
But the opponent, AIADMK candidate, Saidi Duraisamy rubbishes the DMK claims and said on May 13, the voters will give a shock treatment "If free and fair polls are held". The public vote is for AIADMK and the people sentiments are very clear, he said vowing that he would win "by a margin of at least 10,000 votes".
He told Hindustan Times on Wednesday, in between his door-to-door campaign, that "gross violation of model code of conduct was taking place" as the DMK was hell bent on "rigging and misuse of money power". Appealing to the election commission to focus on Kolattur also, as money was already distributed in the constituency and mentions a staggering figure of Rs 3 crore. "The lower rung officials of the government are looking the other way, out of fear or favour," he alleged and that he was going to complain to the election commission in this regard.
"Even if they (DMK) distribute money, the result may come shockingly different," he said adding "people will take the money and vote for AIADMK as they are convinced that only the tough rule of Amma can rid them of "rowdysm and kangaroo courts". In fear factor, Kolattur ranks as number one in the state and the election commission must step in with the strictest action to prevent large-scale malpractices, Duraisamy said.