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Tamil Nadu: Congress hopes for gains, BJP falls back

The Congress, which is fighting 41 seats as part of the DMK-led alliance, is confident of winning at least 20 seats

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Published: May 14, 2016 2:33 am
Madurai: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and DMK Treasurer M K Stalin at an election rally PTI Photo (PTI5_7_2016_000198B) Madurai: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and DMK Treasurer M K Stalin at an election rally PTI Photo (PTI5_7_2016_000198B)

After years of political oblivion in Tamil Nadu, the Congress could be looking at gains come voting day on Monday. The other national party with high stakes in this battle, the BJP, however, may be staring at another washout.

The Congress, which is fighting 41 seats as part of the DMK-led alliance, is confident of winning at least 20 seats, and recapturing its traditional strongholds of Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari districts. This belt was once controlled by the Kamaraj faction of the Congress, with a sizeable hold among the Nadar community.

In the 2011 polls, the Congress had won five seats.

Anticipating that it wouldn’t perform as well as expected, the BJP has started talking in terms of only showing its “strength”. The party, which had contested 204 seats in 2011 and not won a single one, failed to strike an alliance with the PMK and other parties that had been NDA allies during the Lok Sabha elections this time.

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The failure to open an account again would be a setback for BJP president Amit Shah, who has been personally looking after the BJP campaign in south India and held several meetings with OBC and Dalit groups.

Party leaders confessed that they expected hardly 10,000 votes for its two high-profile candidates Tamilisai Soundararajan (the BJP state chief contesting from Virugambakkam in Chennai city) and H Raja (the outspoken national secretary contesting from T Nagar in Chennai).

The BJP’s biggest hope is Vanathi Srinivasan, the candidate from Coimbatore South, who has experimented with Modi-model strategies such as ‘Coffee with Vanathi’ and ‘Ask Vanathi’.

“This would be an election that will show us our strengths, weaknesses and potential in the South,” a senior leader said.

A senior party leader looking after northern Tamil Nadu said they were focusing on around 10 constituencies out of 234 to garner at least 15 per cent votes each. Another leader said they expected to get 2-3 per cent of the total votes.

Regional leaders and prominent faces have been leaving the BJP to join the AIADMK, including S Gurumurthy (from Nilgiris) and Apsara Reddy. A transgender and media professional, Reddy had been made a member recently by national general secretary Muralidhar Rao. “I believe in equality of all genders and dignity for all genders. I felt I was a photo op for them (the BJP) on Women’s Day,” her Facebook post explaining why she resigned from the BJP said.

The constituencies where the Congress’ chances are brightest include Sivakasi and Karaikudi. Sreeram Chokkar, the Sivakasi candidate, is the son of former Congress MLA R Chokkar, who had later defected to G K Mooppanar’s Tamil Manila Congress (TMC). K R Ramasamy, the nominee from Karaikudi, is a five-time MLA from Thiruvadanai. The only time Ramasamy lost was in 2011, when he was knocked out amidst the massive AIADMK sweep after the 2G scam.

In Sriperumbudur, former VCK MLA Selva Perunthakai is considered a strong candidate for the party. A former tea boy with RBI, Perunthakai’s candidature had triggered a controversy due to allegations of sympathies with the LTTE as a VCK leader.

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  1. A
    Ajay
    May 14, 2016 at 4:39 am
    Vedaranyam ? BJP will win the seat along with Coimbatore South, which itself is a big deal without any alliance.
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    1. A
      Ashwin
      May 14, 2016 at 6:57 am
      AMMA will win,congress and bjp MAY NOT GET NOT EVEN A SEAT
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      1. Maradonna Temp
        May 14, 2016 at 5:33 pm
        Stupidity....Congress banks on DMK one of the powerful party for votes....BJP on the other side independent........So congress even can win 30 bu they are just relying on DMK (5time CM)
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        1. Purna Varma
          May 14, 2016 at 8:11 am
          I am surprised if this journalist walks the ground. Congress and DMK alliance will not more than 10 seats combined. NTK led by fireb Seeman seems to be gaining momentum.
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          1. Joseph R Stephen
            May 14, 2016 at 8:10 am
            The Party with big difference, the party that is suppose to run by people, the party that is suppose to protect the Indians, has nothing to offer.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;I was listening to their speeches all bordered on attacking AMMA. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;But BJP is power for last 2 years in Maharasthra, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Modi is the PM. Only yesterday Supreme court condemned this states and centre for showing total disregard to the sufferings of 400 million people due to DROUGHT. NO JOBS, NO WATER this people are suffering. The governments are ignoring this people for help and have refused to declare DROUGHT and DISTRESS.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;BJP by saying so feels it has not done a good job for two years. So it is trying to hide full PUMPKIN the suffering of people and MODI keeps saying how good he is and his government.
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