It's Amma all the way in Andipatty

Locals say they'll vote for Amma as they want to elect a chief minister and not another MLA, reprots GC Shekhar.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2006 21:42 IST
GC Shekhar

Miles of smooth asphalt snaking through the Andipatty constituency would put to shame most of the national highways in the country.

This has made the remote villages of the area, where life is a lot better now, more accessible.

Take the case of G Uslimapatti, women there just have to step out of their tile-roofed homes to collect drinking water at a village tap.

Three years back, they had to trek to a groundwater well nearly 2 km away. The villagers readily credit the transformation to Amma.

Ever since Jayalalithaa won the by-election in February 2002, she has showered Andipatty with development projects, including a new general hospital. "Now even people from nearby towns need not go to Madurai for treatment," says R Murugan, a shopkeeper.

Though some pockets here sport DMK flags and symbols, most of Andipatty swears by Amma. In 2002, she won by a margin of 33,000 votes.

This time, local AIADMK men want to improve on that figure. "We have no doubt that she'll win by the highest margin in the state. Also we'll be electing a chief minister and not another MLA," argues Sellathambi of Andipatty town.

But the DMK is countering this line of campaign saying that Jayalalithaa will cease to be a CM after May 8 and it would make sense to elect their candidate Seeman as "the choice is between an ex-CM and a prospective minister".

Seeman—a wealthy tutorial college owner from Chennai—is hoping to cut into the AIADMK's traditional Thevar votes.

The DMK hopes to claim moral victory if it can manage to keep Jayalalithaa's winning margin below 10,000.

Karunanidhi during his brief halt at Andipatty urged his cadres to spring a surprise on Jayalalithaa like in 1996 (when she lost her seat in Bargur to a novice).

But there are many who are keen to show their gratitude to Amma. Krishnaveni Ammal, an 82-year-old Dalit woman and a former Congress MLA, is one of them.

After a Tamil daily reported how she was living in penury, Jayalalithaa immediately gave her a solarium of Rs 5 lakh and a rent-free government flat. In spite of her age, Ammal is preparing to campaign for Jayalalithaa.

First Published: Apr 25, 2006 21:42 IST