The daggers are out and the battle lines clearly drawn. Over 5.5 crore voters in Tamil Nadu will decide the fate of 845 candidates vying for 39 seats in the Lok Sabha Elections the voting for which will take place on Thursday.
In all, 845 candidates were in the fray that included 55 women and a transgender, who is testing her first electoral waters from the Madurai constituency.
This is the highest ever field in the annals of state’s electoral politics, when compared to 823 during the 2009 general elections. In the intense battle field, the ruling AIADMK led by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the Opposition DMK, BJP-led NDA alliance comprising actor politician Vijayakanth’s DMDK, Dr Ramadoss led Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Vaiko’s Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), the Congress, Left parties and the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are the key contestants.
For the first time in the state’s history, there will be a multi-cornered contest in all the constituencies making it a nightmare for psephologists.
The prominent leaders in the fray included 2G Scam accused and former Union ministers of DMK Dayanidhi Maran (Chennai Central) and A Raja (Nilgiris), former Union highways minister T R Baalu (Thanjavur) and BJP’s state president Pon Radhakrishnan (Kanniyakumari).
Congress’ Mani Shankar Aiyar, EVKS Elangovan, Karti Chidambaram, son of Union Minister P Chidambaram and Su Thirunavukkarasar are contesting from Mayiladuthurai, Tiruppur, Sivaganga, Dindigul and Ramanathapuram respectively.
PMK’s Anbumani Ramadoss, a former Union minister, and PMK chief G K Mani from Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri, DMDK Founder and actor Vijayakanth's brother-in-law L K Sudheesh (Salem) and anti-nuclear activist and MDMK's Vaiko is contesting from Virdhunagar.
The only two prominent faces from the AIADMK are the sitting MP M Thambidurai (Karur) and A Anwar Raja (Ramanathapuram).
While the AIADMK, whose supremo Jayalalithaa was nurturing national ambitions, the Congress and the Left have decided to go it alone, the DMK has VCK and some minor parties as its allies.
A bad performance will be a huge “embarrassment” for Jayalalithaa as her party members had been terming her as the next prime minister.
In the case of the DMK, a decent show in the polls is important not only for bargaining minister berths at the centre-in case of a fractured verdict-but also important for Karunanidhi's son M K Stalin, who was tipped as the party chief. The BJP-led NDA has stitched together a rainbow alliance that included the DMDK, MDMK, PMK, Kongu Party and the IJK, which might make an impact by splitting the votes.
The fledgling Aam Aadmi Party is also in the fray, but it was unlikely to create any ripples, but it was excepted to make its presence felt in the coastal Kanniyaumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli constituencies due to support of anti-nuclear activists.
Despite claims by the political parties, it indicates that securing each and every seat will be a tough fight due to multi-cornered contest.
The state has a total electorate of 5,50,42,876 of which 2,75,18,373 were men and 2,75,21,162 women and others 3,341. In all, the Election Commission has set up 60,816 polling booths of which 9,226 were classified as sensitive and 1,337 hyper sensitive.
For the first time, the whole of Tamil Nadu has been brought under Section 144 from 6 pm on Tuesday till the polling day (24 April).
Meanwhile, in a multi-cornered contest for the lone seat in Puducherry, just over nine lakh voters would decide the electoral fate of sitting member of Parliament and Union minister V Narayanasamy on Thursday.
As many as 11 political parties (six major and five minor) and 19 independents are in the fray in the Union Territory. The poll battle is mainly between the ruling All India NR Congress’ (AINRC) R Radhakrishnan, PMK’s R K R Anandharaman and Congress’ Narayanasamy.