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Karunanidhi eyes 11th romp

Don't write off this wily war horse for he is capable of springing last-minute surprises, GC Shekhar.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2006 16:24 IST
GC Shekhar

Amma beat him to it. But don't write off this wily war horse for he is capable of springing last-minute surprises.

The marathon man of Tamil Nadu politics — DMK chief M Karunanidhi — launched his party's election campaign on Monday in his bid to storm the Assembly for a record eleventh time.

Age has not daunted him and neither has the heat. He looked sprightly as he clambered into an open jeep flanked by sons Stalin, Tamizh and nephew Dayanidhi Maran and waved at the crowd.

Party cadre rent the air with slogans and residents cheered him from the roadside and the balconies of their homes. Campaign managers were beaming. "We'll sweep Chepauk and it'll be a landslide in the state," predicted Union Minister TR Baalu.

The bouquets were accompanied by brickbats, too. As the motorcade threaded its way through the city, residents buttonholed Karunanidhi's daughter Selvi on the political pressure to vacate their flats — sublet illegally by their original allottees.

"Your father told us five years back that he would make us the owners, but he did not keep his promise," they rued.

Though Chepauk, with barely over a lakh voters, has been handpicked because of its pro-DMK leanings, the party cannot take a third successive romp for granted.

The reason: Voices rang out in praise of bete noire Jayalalithaa from even among die-hard DMK fans. Amma had bowled them over with her tsunami relief work.

"This is a disturbing trend. They are asking us why Karunanidhi has not visited them for the past five years or raised their problems in the Assembly," said a party official.

Karunanidhi had let his youngest son Thamizh to nurse the constituency. And Chepauk felt left out.

First Published: Apr 11, 2006 16:24 IST