Two Tamil Nadu seats, two parties, one family

Two Tamil Nadu seats, two parties, one family

Vasanthakumar, who owns a consumer electronics and home appliances business and is among the richest politicians in Tamil Nadu.

Tamil nadu, Tamil nadu elections, Tamilisai Soundararajan, DMK, Kanimozhi, lok sabha elections, general elections, election news, decision 2019, lok sabha elections 2019, indian express
Tamilisai (L), Vasanthakumar

HIS daughter and BJP state chief Tamilisai Soundararajan is part of one of the most-watched contests in Tamil Nadu — versus DMK first family scion Kanimozhi, in Thoothukudi. Income-Tax’s raid on Kanimozhi on Tuesday, from where it returned empty-handed, has rendered it even more interesting.

For Kumari Anandan though, that is not the only reason the Thoothukudi fight is a nailbiter. The 86-year-old Congress veteran’s loyalties are further strained on account of another contest, in the nearby seat of Kanyakumari, from where younger brother H Vasanthakumar is fighting on a Congress ticket.

Luckily, Anandan laughed, Tamilisai and Vasanthakumar are contesting from two separate constituencies (all 39 Tamil Nadu seats vote on April 18). “I would say ‘En vote oruvanukkum, vazhthu iruvarukkum (My vote for one and wishes for both)’.”

Vasanthakumar, the brother whose political career he saw blossom, would have his vote, he added. “Of course, she (Tamilisai) is my daughter and my love and wishes are for her always. But not my vote. She is my daughter but she is an individual and has her own choices.”

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Incidentally, a former Tamil Nadu Congress chief and MLA, Anandan had himself aligned with the NDA in 2001 after parting ways with the Congress to float the Thondar Congress. A leader of the powerful OBC Nadar community, he, like other veteran Congress leaders in south India, had a complicated relationship with the party high command in the 1990s. With the Thondar Congress failing to make much headway, he had returned to the Congress in 2002.

Vasanthakumar, who owns a consumer electronics and home appliances business and is among the richest politicians in Tamil Nadu, is posing a tough challenge to sitting BJP Kanyakumari MP and Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan.

Vasanthakumar is counting on the Nadar vote — “at least 30 per cent of the traditional BJP Hindu votes have already moved to the Congress here”, he claimed — the sizeable minority votes in the seat, as well as the alliance of the DMK-Congress-Left-Dalit parties.

Did Modi give those jobs he promised? I conducted three job fares in Kanyakumari in my personal capacity and over 1,500 people got jobs,” he said.

However, Tamilisai is fighting a tough battle and it would be more difficult if Anandan can’t be seen publicly backing her. Kanimozhi, on the other hand, is invoking the formidable legacy of father M Karunanidhi. In an earlier interview to The Indian Express, Tamilisai had said Anandan had been hurt at her decision to join the BJP (she joined in 1998). But, she had said, she felt the Congress was not doing enough for the people. “We did not talk for a long time. But he wished me after I was elected (as BJP state president in 2014). I hoped this would heal the wounds,” Tamilisai had said.