DMK versus BJP in Pondicherry

PTI | ByGeorge Rozario, Press Trust of India, Pondicherry
May 04, 2004 07:48 PM IST

The battle here is between BJP's Lalitha Kumara-mangalam and PMK's Dr M Ramadoss, a former economic professor of Central University.

BJP's National Secretary Lalitha Kumaramangalam will take on PMK's think-tank and a former economic professor of Central University here, Dr M Ramadoss, in the union territory, considered a Congress fortress.

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Both the candidates had never won an election before while their respective parties had also never represented the Pondicherry Lok Sabha seat. This time around, however, one of them is sure to enter the Lower House of Parliament unless upset by one of the other aspirants.

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This is the first time that Congress is not contesting the seat since Pondicherry's merger with India.

Kumaramangalam, daughter of late Mohan Kumaramangalam an eminent lawyer and former Union minister, had unsuccessfully contested the Tirupur assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu in the 2001 state assembly polls and Ramadoss was runner-up for the union territory Lok Sabha seat in 1999 losing to Congress leader MOH Farook.

Although Ramadoss camp expresses confidence that the party would romp home without any hiccups, BJP on the other hand sees a ray of hope following show of resentment by Congressmen over the seat being allotted to the PMK, a constituent of the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance of which the Congress is a part.

"If the Congress was contesting the seat it would have been a different matter. But with it being given to PMK, we (BJP) have a good chance to win it," BJP claims.

BJP's Pondicherry chief R Kasavallu asserted that his party 'will make its entry into the Lok Sabha from the union territory'.

Sensing the uncooperative mood among partymen and supporters, Chief Minister N Rangasamy and senior Congress leaders like territorial party chief V Narayanasamy are working overtime at damage control exercise in this unique parliamentary constituency spread out in three states.

During campaigning for the PMK and addressing meetings of party workers, Rangasamy stresses that the prime concern of the Congress is to defeat BJP even if it means sacrificing the seat. With less than a week for the curtain to come down on electioneering, it has just started picking up momentum.

Some passers-by, picked at random and asked about the chances of the Congress and BJP, reply 'if the Congress had to contest, it would have been a one-sided victory'. They decline to hazard a guess as to who would come out winner.

An auto driver flying the saffron flag on his vehicle not suprisingly said 'madame Lalitha will win'.

PMK partymen when asked about the prospects of Ramadoss claim that 'it will be a one-sided contest'.

Pondicherry and Karaikal are Tamil dominated areas, Yanam enclave in Andhra Pradesh is dominated by Telugu speaking people and Mahe in Kerala by Malayalee dominated voters.

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