Maran may sail through in Chennai Central

Maran may sail through in Chennai Central

The former ministers majority may decrease

Maran may sail through in Chennai Central

The margin of victory, though, is likely to come down this time from the 1.8 lakh votes he secured over AIADMK's Balaganga N in 2004.

Chennai Central has traditionally been a DMK fortress and the late Murasoli Maran, elected thrice from here, is still held in high esteem. Muslims form a considerable chunk of the over 9.75 lakh voters and they have played a crucial role in enabling the DMK to hold sway.

The assembly segments of Park Town, Purasawalkam, Egmore, Anna Nagar, Thousand Lights and  Chepauk that make up this constituency, had all voted for the “rising sun” in the 2006 assembly polls.

Three of the present state ministers have been voted from this constituency: Electricity minister Arcot N Veerasamy (Anna Nagar) Local Administration Minister and CM’s son M K Stalin (Thousand Lights) and Information Minister Paruthi Illamvazhuthi (Egmore). What has set alarm bells ringing in the DMK is the determined attempt by different parties to wean away its Muslim voter base.

Jayalalithaa, who initially announced actor S S Chandran, as her party’s candidate, later replaced him with S M K Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the AIADMK’s Minority Wing Secretary.

The move is aimed at giving the party an advantage over the DMK as well as negate the step by the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi of the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, to field Hyder Ali to grab the minority votes. The BSP has also made a similar attempt by fielding Yunus Khan.

What works in Maran’s favour is the numerous investments he has brought into varied industries in the country, particularly Tamil Nadu. This is a point Maran stresses at numerous campaign meetings. 

However, he has failed at the local level. The main grouse of the electorate is his failure to fulfil many promises, including cleansing of the polluted Cooum river.

Ali Jinnah, a literally unknown AIADMK face, reiterates that he would win due to the popularity of “amma” and the anti-incumbency faced by the DMK government.

When asked about his sudden elevation as a candidate, he said: “Amma wanted me to contest. So, I am contesting. I am sure of the Muslim vote. “

Abdul Rehman, who runs a footwear shop in Thousand Lights, says: “Many of us are members of the Muslim outfit, Tamil Nadu Tamjeet Jammat, and it has asked us to vote for the DMK to express our gratitude because it provided us 3.5 per cent reservation in educational institutions and government jobs.”

Zainual Abideen adds, “I know the Neya Makkal Katchi will not win the seat but I will vote for Hyder Ali just to ensure that it secures a good number of votes. This will give it better bargaining power with big parties the next time around, like the position the PMK finds itself in the state now.”

The Brahmin pockets in the constituency, swear by the AIADMK, and they give reasons for this. “For 30 years, Chennai reeled under water crisis.

Jayalalithaa implemented the Veeranam Drinking Water Project and water scarcity has disappeared,” says businessman Balaji, based at Triplicane.

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