Villupuram (Tamil Nadu), April 23: The non-descript small town Ulundurpettai in Villupuram district with agriculture and trading as its main economic activity has now turned into a star assembly constituency.
Read more: Special Coverage: Assembly Elections 2016
The reason? Actor-turned-politician and DMDK founder A. Vijaykant is contesting from the Ulundurpettai.
Sensing the challenge, the PMK, which is fighting the polls on its own, projecting former union minister Anbumani Ramadoss as its chief ministerial candidate, changed its Ulundurpettai contestant.
The PMK has fielded its spokesperson and advocate K.Balu while the DMK has put up G.R.Vasanthavel after its ally, Muslim party MMK, decided against contesting from the seat allotted to it.
The sitting legislator, R. Kumaraguru of the AIADMK, is seeking re-election.
What seems to be in favour of the opposition parties is the general feeling that the two Dravidian parties - the AIADMK and the DMK - that have represented them in the assembly have not done much for the constituency.
"There is not much of a change in the locality. While industries have come up in other places no major industry has come up here," an owner of a small business outlet told IANS.
"Only real estate deals are happening here. People have moved out in search of better prospects," another resident said.
The AIADMK party cadres are confident that Kumaraguru would romp home with ease based on the freebies and welfare measures implemented by the J.Jayalalithaa government.
But it is not going to be easy for Vijaykant, who has shifted from the nearby Rishivandhayam constituency given the strong opposition there.
PMK's Balu told IANS: "People here know about Vijaykant and his performance and non-attendance in the assembly. He has not done much for the Rishivandhayam constituency."
While there is no official word as to the reason for Vijaykant shifting his constituency, it is speculated that he is confident of winning the seat on the combined strength of Dalit party VCK and his own party.
In the 2011 assembly elections, VCK got over 61,000 votes whereas the DMDK did not field a candidate as it was part of an AIADMK-led alliance.
In the 2006 polls, the VCK got over 46,000 votes and the DMDK over 30,000. In both elections, the VCK came second.
In 2016, VCK is part of the People's Welfare Front (PWF) comprising the MDMK and two Left parties and, in turn, has allied with the DMDK.
Further, the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) of G.K. Vasan is also allied with the front led by the DMDK and is expected to fetch some votes.
However, the Captain - the moniker by which Vijaykant is called by his partymen - may not find the sailing smooth this time.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at email@example.com)