DMK eyes Christian votes

Alagiri calls on bishop in Nagercoil, seeks support for candidates

 As ironies of politics have it in the run-up to the April 13 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu,  it is DMK’s south zone organiser and  Union Chemicals and Fertiliser Minister Alagiri’s turn to do some running into Church alleys in Kanyakumari district, the southernmost district of Tamil Nadu.

 Alagiri on Tuesday called on Bishop Peter Remigius of the famous Kottar Diocese in the district headquarters of Nagercoil, which has one of the largest Catholic population in the South, and sought his blessings and support for the DMK-Congress alliance candidates.

The move gains significance, not just for Alagiri’s promising the party patriarch M Karunanidhi that he would win for the DMK-led alliance virtually all the 60 Assembly constituencies in the South, but also in the backdrop of the BJP upping its poll stakes.

Though Kanyakumari is the smallest in the state, Kottar Church is the locus of influential Christian communities. Regional parties without the backing of any of the national parties can hardly win these seats. With the Christians traditionally supporting the Congress, the DMK leader had to woo the Bishop of the Kottar. For this time, if the BJP took more of the anti-incumbency votes, the net beneficiary could be the Jayalalitha-led AIADMK that has a wider alliance.

BJP’s stronghold

In the past, the BJP has done well in all the six Assembly segments in Kanyakumari. The last time though, it won a seat in that district was as part of the DMK-BJP front.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections,  BJP’s state president Pon Radhakrishnan finished second with over 2.54 lakh votes after DMK candidate Helen Davidson’s over 3.20 lakhs votes got as Congress’ ally.  In the 2006 Assembly polls, BJPmanaged to cut into the AIADMK’s votes, even pushing the latter to a miserable third in the Killiyur segment.

This time, Pon Radhakrishnan, who is  contesting from Nagercoil, is upbeat on winning all the six seats, even as senior state BJP leader Ela Ganesan is optimistic of winning 10 to 15 seats across the state. The Janata Party is an ally of the BJP here.

 The BJP’s “go-it-alone” strategy has been well thought out, says Ganesan.

On the back of an equally populous manifesto like that of the two main Dravidian parties, the BJP, too, has promised sops, including free laptops to 10th standard and plus two students of all government schools and even free sanitary napkins through PDS shops to poor women.

The party’s top brass, including L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj, will descend on the state in April first week.

Alagiri takes on EC, dist collector

Union Chemicals and Fertiliser Minister and DMK leader Alagiri has accused the Election Commission of indirectly helping the AIADMK.

Alagiri also lashed out at Madurai District Collector Sagayam for allegedly calling for a “change in government” in Tamil Nadu as part of his “clean poll campaign” among youth. But, Sagayam categorically denied that he had made any such remark.

A public interest litigation (PIL) was moved in the Madras High Court on Wednesday seeking the district collector’s removal from the post.

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