It's national vs local issues in Tamil Nadu (Election Special)
In a multi-cornered election contest in Tamil Nadu, the campaign strategy of various formations is based on national versus local issues.
AIADMK general secretary and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa with prime ministerial ambitions talks largely about national issues, while her opponents talk about the local - bijli (electricity), sadak (road) and paani (water) problems.
Much before other parties had finalised their alliances and their manifestoes, Jayalalithaa announced her poll promises and started touring the constituencies in a helicopter.
Her campaign theme is mostly national focused on oil pricing policies, defence deals, foreign relations, price rise, mis-management of the economy, various scams under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
She also blames the centre for step-motherly treatment meted out to the state in terms of allocation of kerosene, central funds and also the centre's stand on Sri Lankan Tamils issue.
Depending on the constituency or the region where she addresses a rally, Jayalalithaa touches upon the national issues having an impact on the local populace.
For instance in Thanjavur, she blasted the UPA government and DMK for not acting on the Cauvery water sharing issue, the centre's permission to trials for genetically modified crops, and her opposition to the methane gas project.
She also said the Sethusamudram Ship Channel project will not benefit the people and also posed to DMK leader T.R.Baalu as how the project would benefit Meenam Fisheries, a company in which his family members are major shareholders.
Citing the multi-cornered contests, she even urges the people to vote for her party as voting for others will make their votes go waste.
She also lists out the steps taken by her government in improving the power supply position in the state.
The AIADMK party men say 'Vote for Amma for Modi government', citing Jayalalithaa's friendship with Narendra Modi.
By virtue of its participation in the UPA government for nine long years, the DMK in the process gets roasted over the coals on foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, Sri Lankan Tamils and other issues.
On the contrary her opponents are attacking her on the bijili (electricity), sadak (road) and paani (water) issues, her court cases, and decisions of the AIADMK run state government.
The DMK's campaign is straight and simple, raising issues like the long power outages, stalled projects, disproportionate assets case faced by Jayalalithaa in a Bangalore court and other local issues.
The party's treasurer and former deputy chief minister M.K.Stalin while campaigning in South Chennai constituency asked the people whether the state became free of power cuts within three months of Jayalalithaa coming to power.
While Jayalalithaa reminds the people about the free mixer/grinders, fans, laptops and others given by her government, the opposition asks for electricity to run the equipments.
Citing the several bridges built during his period as Chennai mayor, Stalin wondered whether the AIADMK government has taken steps to build any new bridges.
He also cited the apex court's decision to allow construction of the Rs.1,650 crore elevated expressway while the AIADMK government wanted a stay.
On the water issue, the DMK criticises the state government's decision to produce and sell bottled water instead of taking steps to augment the drinking water supply. He said the DMK government took steps to implement two desalination water projects here.
The actor-turned-politician and DMDK leader A.Vijaykant termed both the AIADMK and the DMK as corrupt parties doling out false promises to people.
The DMDK is part of the six party alliance stitched together by the BJP in Tamil Nadu and Vijaykant style of campaigning is sort of interactive.
Vijaykant, who nurtures chief ministerial aspirations when the state goes for polls in 2016, said: "My only aim is to chase out AIADMK and DMK."
"If AIADMK and DMK had ruled well, I would not have started DMDK," he said at a rally in Namakkal.
"I would keep Tamil Nadu free of corruption. For keeping India free of corruption, I need Modi," he said.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 21-04-2014)