If Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader Dayanidhi Maran manages to retain the Central Chennai constituency, it would be a hat-trick of victories for the former Union IT minister.
That is easier said than done. Not that his rival and candidate of the ruling All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) S R Vijayakumar is formidable by any measure, but the ghosts of 2G spectrum scam that continue to haunt the DMK could prove to be Maran’s undoing in the end.
Considered a DMK bastion, Central Chennai Lok Sabha constituency has been with the Maran family since 1996. Dayanidhi’s father Murasoli Maran won from this constituency three times between 1996 and 1999.
Following the older Maran’s demise in 2003, Dayanidhi contested in 2004 elections and continues to represent the seat in Lok Sabha.
The two lakh first time voters in the constituency are indeed well aware of the developments in the 2G scam since 2009. In addition, Dayanidhi is also facing serious allegations such as securing 323 ISDN phone connections from BSNL at the state-run company’s expense, which is likely to hit a raw nerve among urban voters.
This was evident in 2011, when the DMK lost all but two of the 16 constituencies around this Lok Sabha seat in the Assembly poll.
The fact that the BJP-led rainbow coalition and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) could eat into the votes of the Drividian rivals would make this election particularly close.
AAP’s candidate and social activist J Prabhakar has been highlighting the corruption scams enveloping the DMK leader among young voters, leaving Maran to lean on minority votes which is a mere 10 per cent among 14 lakh voters in Central Chennai. “Amma’s welfare measures have reached every nook and corner. More over, people here know me well since I am a local man,” Vijayakumar told Deccan Herald.
The Vijayakanth-led Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) continues to keep its focus on serious shortcomings of the ruling party such as the acute power shortage in Tamil Nadu. Some DMK cadre believe that such a campaign would very likely swing the votes in their party’s favour.
Dayanidhi is keeping a low profile in the elections. Except for outdoor campaigning, he is refusing requests for interviews probably fearing that the 2G and other corruption issues concerning him would come up.