Kanyakumari as Congress's solo hope in Tamil Nadu

The Congress might witness a repeat of the 1996 rout when it fought the election alone and drew a blank.


Shivani Chaturvedi | April 16, 2014

The writing on the wall is pretty clear. Election in Tamil Nadu has narrowed down to AIADMK, DMK and BJP, despite surplus of candidates in all the 39 constituencies in the state. Going for Congress, which is politically isolated in Tamil Nadu, is very tough. The Congress might witness a repeat of the 1996 rout when it fought the election alone and drew a blank. Even the party men and leaders have lost their hope.

Why is then the Congress president Sonia Gandhi troubling herself at all to visit Tamil Nadu? Sonia is visiting Kanyakumari constituency on April 16 and the same evening she will leave for Andhra Pradesh. She won’t be touring in any other constituency. 
The reason for Sonia choosing Kanyakumari is understandable because this seat has been Congress bastion. If at all Congress can think of getting any seat in Tamil Nadu, it is Kanyakumari. Neither AIADMK nor DMK could take roots in Kanyakumari district. However, Karunanidhi tried to undermine Congress’s strength in the district. In 1999 when the DMK aligned with the BJP they tried getting hegemony in the district to weaken the Congress. Over the years people in Kanyakumari have become disenchanted with the Congress. Vasantha Kumar, the Congress candidate from Kanyakumari, is a moneybag. But how much money power will work without political allies is yet to be seen. Kumar is a businessman from Hindu Nadar community, which has a large presence in the constituency. He is a former MLA from the neighbouring Tirunelveli district. His elder brother Kumari Ananthan is a former state Congress president.
Moreover, bishops of the churches in the constituency have an impact on the voting pattern. Kumar had met Bishop Nagercoil in Kanyakumari district and sought his blessings. That can contribute a little. The Nadar community is divided into Hindu Nadar and Christian Nadar and the latter are slightly larger in number.
Interestingly, among the two or three constituencies the BJP and its allies hope to win in the state, Kanyakumari tops the list. RSS and Hindu Munnani are very powerful in Kanyakumari district. BJP’s candidate Pon Radhakrishnan, who also belongs to Hindu Nadar community, has carried out some development in the constituency. Modi is concluding his Tamil Nadu campaigning at Kanyakumari. Observers say if Modi can whip up peoples’ sentiments during his campaign, they may go for BJP in Kanyakumari.
AAP’s candidate SP Udayakumar who, again, is a Hindu Nadar, has votes in the coastal community. Fishermen whose livelihood is getting affected because of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant are likely to support Udayakumar. AIADMK and DMK candidates both belong to Catholic Nadar community. AIADMK candidate has sought blessings of Catholic Bishop. In Kanyakumari Protestants have edge over Catholics. However, both the Dravidian parties have percentage of their hardcore supporters in the constituency.
Kanyakumari is the seat which will decide whether Congress can at least have its presence in Tamil Nadu with one seat. And even for BJP, which hopes to win Kanyakumari, wave can be gauged only when their star campaigner Modi is able to strike chord with the people when he visits Kanyakumari on April 17.




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