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Campaigning set to heat up in Tamil Nadu

Electioneering for the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry is heating up with the two major political alliances led by the DMK and the AIADMK hitting the campaign trail.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2009 15:16 IST

Electioneering for the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry is heating up with the two major political alliances led by the DMK and the AIADMK hitting the campaign trail.

While the AIADMK has already unleashed its campaign for the May 13 ballot, the ruling DMK will see a formal launch Saturday. Actor-politician Vijaykanth has been doing the rounds since last month.

AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalitha released the party's manifesto at a public meeting in Chennai Thursday.

Setting the tone of her party's strategy and the issues the five-party alliance led by AIADMK would raise, the former chief minister said, "The five years of UPA (United Progressive Alliance) rule have resulted only in price rise of essential commodities, job losses, stagnating industrial growth and farmer suicides."

AIADMK MP V Maitreyan said the party would also rake up the "betrayal of Sri Lankan Tamils by the state and the central governments".

The DMK-Congress combine will formally launch its election campaign Saturday with Chief Minister and DMK chief M Karunanidhi introducing all the candidates of the alliance that also includes the smaller VCK.

"The success of rural employment guarantee scheme and other central schemes will find voters' favour. The DMK will highlight its successful schemes for the people of Tamil Nadu," Congress MP E N Sudarsana Natchiappan told IANS.

He also defended India's policy vis-a-vis Sri Lanka, where the advancing military is poised to overwhelm the Tamil Tigers in the last strip of territory the rebels still control.

"The people of Tamil Nadu know that the central government has done the maximum possible for Sri Lankan Tamils," he said, and pointed out that New Delhi had also invited Sri Lankan Tamil MPs sympathetic to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for discussions.

Going it alone, actor and DMDK founder Vijaykant launched his campaign last month from Kancheepuram district.

Even though these are Lok Sabha elections, Vijaykant has been going soft on national parties while bashing the DMK and AIADMK. But while faulting them over their policies, he has hit the campaign path minus a manifesto.

Both the main Dravidian parties are wary of him.

"The votes for Vijaykant are akin to invalid votes. His party has chances of getting something near 20 per cent votes only in certain constituencies. The people of Tamil Nadu know how to differentiate between state and central elections," said Natchiappan.

"Vijaykanth's party might have got eight percent of votes in the last assembly elections but in this election there will be an overall erosion in his vote bank," he added.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is aligning with small parties floated by Tamil actors Sharath Kumar and Karthik, will focus mainly on price rise, economic slowdown and terrorism.

It will also talk about Sri Lanka.

"We will soon launch a separate website for (state party leader L.) Ganesan on the lines of the one for L.K. Advani," said BJP state media in-charge K T Raghavan.

Raghavan added that prime ministerial candidate Advani and other national leaders like Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh and M. Venkaiah Naidu will campaign in the state after April 25.

In the 2004 parliamentary polls, the UPA won 35 of Tamil Nadu's 39 seats - DMK 16, Congress 10, PMK five and MDMK four. The remaining four seats were won by the Left parties. The PMK won the Puducherry seat.

First Published: Apr 17, 2009 15:04 IST