Sivaganga (Tamil Nadu), April 18: Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is no more the Congress candidate here, but his son Karti is. And both the BJP and the AIADMK are determined to worst him in the Lok Sabha battle. Of the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu, Sivaganga is attracting the most attention.
Chidambaram, the outgoing MP, has opted out to pave the way for the political rise of his son, Karti P. Chidambaram, who is in a six-cornered contest involving a total of 27 candidates.
The DMK, weakened by family feuds, is also in the race besides the Communist Party of India and the Aam Aadmi Party. Tamil Nadu votes April 24.
Both the Bharatiya Janata Party, a part of a six-member alliance in the state, and the ruling AIADMK have no great respect for the younger Chidambaram although he claims that he, like his father last time, will win.
“The fight here is between the BJP and the AIADMK. The Congress and others are not in the reckoning,” BJP candidate H. Raja told IANS.
In 2009, Chidambaram Sr scraped through with a margin of just over 3,300 votes even though the DMK was an ally. “Now the Congress is alone,” underlined Raja, a 56-year old chartered accountant.
Raja is confident of his victory due to the BJP’s alliance with parties like the DMDK, MDMK, PMK and others, voter fatigue with Chidambaram, severe power cuts in the region that would work against the AIADMK; the sibling war in the DMK and the popularity of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Karti Chidambaram disagrees. “Every party is now testing the waters contesting alone,” he said.
“My election plank is simple. I will work to attract higher levels of private sector investment in the agro-based industries and agro-processing industries.
“I also offer a different proposition of not belonging to any caste as most candidates rely on their caste tag,” Chidambaram told IANS.
He said his campaign strategy included highlighting the achievements of the Congress-led UPA government.
BJP’s Raja feels that Karti Chidambaram’s defeat will be a defeat for his father who was elected from the constituency to the Lok Sabha six times previously. Four of these victories were on the Congress ticket.
Raja said the constituency had remained backward for decades without any development, though Chidambaram was a key figure in successive central governments.
“My promise to Sivaganga is to lay a broad gauge railway line between Karaikudi and Madurai, and bring in solar power generation units and other industries,” Raja said.
Chidambaram said the two main Dravidian parties, the AIADMK and DMK, have ruled Tamil Nadu for nearly five decades. “They should be questioned for lack of development.”
He said successive state governments had failed to set up a graphite factory in the constituency.
According to Raja, the Sivaganga battle would have been a tough one had the AIADMK fielded Raja Kannappan, who lost narrowly to Chidambaram in 2009.
AIADMK candidate, P.R. Senthilnathan, dismissed BJP as a major threat and told IANS: “The fight is between AIADMK and the DMK. The Congress is in the fourth position.”
“I am highlighting the achievements of our leader since 2011 she came back to power,” he said about his poll plank.
Sivaganga has around 1.4 million voters, a tenth of them Muslims.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)