In a state where the DMK gained political strength by whipping up emotional and violent anti-Hindi agitations in the late sixties and early seventies, Hindi-speaking people from different parts of the country have started finding acceptance in every walk of life, including politics.
Mangal Singh, a businessman from Rajasthan, is an active campaigner for DMDK, the party floated by actor Vijayakanth, which has joined hands with the AIADMK.
He is part of a 25-member group that has been travelling to different parts of the state to drum up support for the AIADMK-DMDK alliance.
“I have had no language problems and have found the people responding positively,” Singh, who runs a teashop in Tiruchirapalli, said.
The group was seen canvassing passionately for AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa at last week’s Tiruchirapalli campaign.
Besides Rajasthan, people from Haryana and Bihar have also been campaigning for Tamil Nadu’s two leading parties, the DMK and the AIADMK.
Hukum Chand Jain, originally from Rajasthan, is campaign in-charge for the Congress in Madhurantakam constituency. Jain’s family has been residing in Chennai for over two generations and in 1980 the AIADMK had given him a ticket to contest from Madhurantakam because of his family's standing and philanthropic work.
He was elected in 1980 and won again in 1989. But during his second term, he quit the AIADMK to join the DMK and has been a loyal party worker since.
“I had absolutely no problem with any political leader because I am Hindi-speaking. I enjoy a close rapport with the chief minister (M Karunanidhi) and several ministers who give me respect,” Jain said.
Electoral politics could have brought about this change in attitude. Hindi-speaking people now form a sizeable chunk of the state’s population.
In Avadi constituency alone, there are more than 25,000 Hindi-speaking people who can alter the fortunes of the contestants. “People from the Hindi belt do not vote along language lines and have their own preferences as per their political understanding,” said Jain.