The battle lines are drawn in Tamil Nadu with a total of 845 candidates in the fray for 39 Lok Sabha seats which will witness a four-cornered fight among the ruling AIADMK led combine, DMK led Opposition, AMMK of TTV Dinakaran and Makkal Neethi Maiyam of Kamal Haasan. But the main fight is between two leaders, one an ‘accidental’ chief minister, who has turned into an aggressive campaigner and the other one an heir apparent, who is desperate to prove his leadership of the party he has inherited.
Edappady K Palaniswami, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, who leads the AIADMK, and the son of late DMK doyen M Karunanidhi, the Opposition leader MK Stalin, are the two leaders who are relentlessly campaigning throughout the length and breadth of the state, albeit in different styles.
Voters of Tamil Nadu are surprised to see a new aggressive Edappadi Palaniswamy who is known for his dignified nature and soft words in public. Palaniswamy, who hit the campaign trail from Chennai since Wednesday, has taken the battle to the enemy camp by openly challenging Stalin for an open debate on which the latter attacks him day in and day out.
Palaniswamy minces no words while attacking the Opposition claims that his government was a failure on all fronts. “Let Stalin and the DMK tell who got the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award gazetted in India Gazette. Though the Tribunal delivered the award, it was our Honourable Amma who got it published in the India Government gazette The DMK which was enjoying the fruits of power in New Delhi from 1998 to 2013 did nothing for getting the tribunal award gazetted. The party was squabbling for money-spinning ministries at the Centre,” thundered Palaniswamy.
In another rally in south-west Tamil Nadu, his forte, he promised a whopping Rs 60,000 crore for the Godavery-Cauvery corridor project.
On the other hand, Stalin, who was elevated to the post of president of DMK in August 2018 following the death of his father M Karunanidhi, is in his usual style interacting with the people during the campaign.
He wakes up at 5 am and hits public places whether it is Chennai or Madurai or Coimbatore. During the brisk morning walks, the DMK chief exchanges pleasantries with the people out on the road and accepts small cups of tea offered by vendors.
Vegetable vendors approach him with complaints that their income has fallen over the last four years. “Amma, let the elections be over and I’ll do something for you,” said Stalin who was in jeans and T-shirt and looking much younger than his 66 years. It’s advantage DMK, according to observers.