By V Venkataramana Chennai, Apr 16 UNI | 3 months ago

Will it be a battle that goes down to the wires or a perceived anti-incumbency wave against sitting member Dayanidhi Maran (DMK) pull the rug from under his feet in Chennai Central constituency is the question foremost in the political observers ' minds.

Comprising of six assembly segments, Central Chennai has remained loyal to DMK for the last five Parliament elections, synonymous with Dayanidhi's father Murasoli Maran, a former industries minister in the erstwhile BJP- led NDA government at the Centre between 1999-2004.

After Murasoli Maran 's passing away, Dayanidhi stepped into his father's shoes in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls when the DMK switched allegiance to Congress and became part of the UPA government that was elected for the first time amid great fanfare.

His thumping win in his maiden electoral battle earned the diminutive, ever smiling grand nephew of Kalaignar (Mr Karunanidhi), a plump portfolio of communications and IT in the Manmohan Singh led union cabinet. But this was to prove his nemesis later as he had quit on corruption charge during the second term (2009-14) amid charges of having misused his position by having multiple BSNL telephone connections at his residence to help his elder brother Kalanidhi's private TV channel Sun.

As his convoy slowly winds its way with a few partymen following on foot, Dayanidhi stands, hands folded in 'namaste' as loud speakers blare a recorded announcement of his achievements like enabling every person to 'own' a mobile through his innovative measures as Communication and IT minister. The message also berates the archrival AIADMK for 'non performance'.

To help him along in his campaign, the DMK is distributing pamphlets at every house. Mr Karunanidhi's hand written message eulogises Dayanidhi and his capabilities. The pamphlet also reminds voters of Murasoli Maran as well with his picture printed alongside that of Mr Karunanidhi on top and the no 2 in DMK M K Stalin's picture waving to voters standing next to a cherubic Dayanidhi.

Talking in terms of development, the focus has always been on civic amenities in this constituency. The voters are also looking up to the civic authorities to rid them of the mosquito menace. Mr Dayanidhi kicked off his campaign after filing his nomination, criticising the failure of the ruling AIADMK government. He alleged that the state government and the City Corporation had only succeeded in produced millions of mosquitoes since coming to power three years ago.

AIADMK candidate S R Vijayakumar, a lawyer, counters the charges accusing Dayanidhi of having done little development work for the people of his constituency. The constituency has a total electorate of 1289251 with women at 639055 slightly outnumbering men at 640969.

A straight fight between the DMK and AIADMK is expected in the constituency that goes to polls on April 24. The odd man out in the contest would be debutant DMDK candidate J K Ravindran. The CPI and CPI(M) have not put up a candidate in Central Chennai.

(Posted on 16-04-2014)