Lok Sabha polls 2024: Curtains draw on election campaign in Tamil Nadu | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Lok Sabha polls 2024: Curtains draw on election campaign in Tamil Nadu

Apr 18, 2024 11:38 AM IST

Rahul Gandhi campaigned in the state only once on April 12 in two back to back rallies in Coimbatore and Tirunelveli where the BJP has put up strong candidates

In the early days of the campaign in March, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK) general secretary Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) and DMK’s sports minister Udhayanidhi Stalin clashed over who is closer to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, projecting that as a bad sign in Tamil Nadu. They got into a photo war showing blown up photos of each other smiling with Modi. Over the last few weeks, candidates and party leaders made vadas, rode bullock carts and turned the campaign into a festive atmosphere while also sharply targeting their rivals.

People at an election rally in Chennai, Tamil Nadu on April 17. (AP Photo)
People at an election rally in Chennai, Tamil Nadu on April 17. (AP Photo)

A high pitched campaign with national leaders criss-crossing Tamil Nadu came to an end on April 17 as the entire state goes to polls on April 19 in the first phase. In total, 950 candidates are in the fray for the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu. The lone seat in Puducherry — a fight between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — will also go to polls on April 17. PM Modi visited the state eight times since January. He campaigned for BJP and NDA candidates by targeting the DMK-Congress combine, who are key constituents of the INDIA block of being corrupt, practising dynastic politics and ceding the Katchatheevu island 50 years ago.

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In comparison, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi campaigned in the state only once on April 12 in two back to back rallies in Coimbatore and Tirunelveli where the BJP has put up strong candidates.

Meanwhile, DMK president and chief minister MK Stalin who has campaigned across Tamil Nadu with only a day’s break made Modi the sole target of his campaign. Stalin dubbed Modi as Vasool Raja over electoral bonds, a migratory bird who focuses on Tamil Nadu only when there is elections and called him an anti-federalist and fascist.

On the last day of the campaign, Stalin was in Chennai campaigning for Chennai Central and Chennai South constituencies for incumbent Dayanidhi Maran and Tamizhachi Thangapandian respectively. “INDIA bloc is strong across India because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s autocracy and fascism which stifles opposition states, his way of causing division among people based on religion,” Stalin said, adding about the arrests of Arvind Kejriwal and Hemant Soren. “If elections were fair, the BJP knew it will lose so they froze the bank accounts of Congress.”

BJP’s state president K Annamalai contesting from the high profile Coimbatore seat on Wednesday spoke in favour of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) which the DMK wants abolished since several medical aspirants have died by suicide unable to clear the exam. “If I were in the police force in Tamil Nadu, I would have filed an FIR against Mr Stalin and no child would have died by suicide,” said Annamalai (a former IPS officer form Karnataka) in Coimbatore blaming Dravidian parties for not supporting students.

The DMK accused the principal opposition AIADMK of continuing to be in a secret alliance with the BJP despite the Dravidian major walking out of the national party’s alliance last September. The split has given the AIADMK to target the DMK in the state and the BJP at the Centre.

EPS campaigned in Salem on Wednesday. He criticised the DMK’s three years of governance, the BJP and his former allies such as the PMK who have jumped ship to the national party. “People are suffering because of price rise under these governments who made false promises,” EPS said. “AIADMK understands people’s pain. We will restore the state’s rights and bring a change.”

Also in the race is Tamil nationalist S Seeman’s Naam Tamizhar Katchi (NTK) who in his fiery speeches campaigns for a corrupt free Tamil Nadu with the promise of clear air and water.

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