Karunanidhi, son shift base out of Chennai

Assembly elections 2011: 11 women in DMKs candidates list; discord in AIADMK front

Karunanidhi, elected to the legislative Assembly for the first time from Kulithalai constituency in 1957, has now preferred to contest from his home town Tiruvarur in erstwhile composite Thanjavur district.

Announcing the list of candidates on Thursday evening for 119 of the 234 constituencies, Karunanidhi said Stalin would contest from the newly-carved out Kolathur constituency on the city’s outskirts. Stalin had for decades been contesting from ‘Thousand Lights’ in the heart of Chennai.

While nearly 50 per cent of the DMK nominees are new faces this time including 11 women, the 87-year-old Karunanidhi who now moves around in a wheelchair, continues to be in a fighting mood. “The DMK and its allies including Congress will launch our poll campaign at Tiruvarur on March 23 and I will file my nomination there on March 24,” he told reporters.

Since the 1967 polls, Karunanidhi too had been contesting from Chennai city. Asked why he was shifting to Tiruvarur some 300 km away, he said even in his very first Assembly election he had wanted to contest from there as “it is my native place” (his birthplace Thirukuvalai is close by). But for decades, Tiruvarur was a seat reserved for Dalits and so he could not contest. Only in the last delimitation it had become a general seat “to enable me to contest,” he said.

Barring two Ministers in the outgoing DMK Cabinet – Electricity minister Arcot Veerasamy and Co-operation minister Ko Si Mani who are in ‘poor health,’ Karunanidhi has renominated all other ministers including Poongothai Aladi Aruna,  who figured in the corporate lobbyist Niira Radia tapes.

As a huge chunk of 93 seats has been given away to the Congress and PMK (63 and 30 seats respectively), Karunanidhi did not wish to antagonise any of the old party veterans. Even some of the top AIADMK functionaries who had defected to DMK in recent months like S Muthuswamy and V Sathiyamoorthy have been given tickets.

Crisis for Jayalalitha
Meanwhile, a crisis persisted in the Opposition AIADMK camp on the identification of constituencies. The two Left parties - the CPM and the CPI - the All India Forward Bloc, Dalit outfit Pudiya Tamizhagam and few other smaller allies, enraged over J Jayalalitha’s ‘unilateral announcement’ of the 160 constituencies the AIADMK would contest, almost threatened to walk out of her alliance.

Their representatives rushed to meet the DMDK leader, actor Vijayakant in a bid to persuade him to form a “Third Front to uphold self-respect,” as ‘Amma’ had brushed aside their wish-lists but Vijayakant gave no quick reply. They later announced that their next course of action would be decided on Friday.  Jayalalitha herself, who was to kick-start her front’s poll campaign from Madurai on Friday, has postponed it as “talks on constituency-sharing have not ended.” She sent two emissaries to meet the dissident allies, but the deadlock continues.

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