Will Stalin's sun arise again?
Chennai, May 6: Exuding confidence on winning the Assembly elections as an MLA in the DMK bastion of Thousand Lights here, Adhi Rajaram, the AIADMK candidate says of his rival ''I am contesting for the first time, but he will be doing so for the last time".
The Thousand Lights constitency is a high profile key seat as M K Stalin the 'rising son' of DMK President M Karunanidhi has made it his electoral turf. It falls under another DMK stronghold, the Lok Sabha constituency of Central Madras that was dominated by Mr Karunanidhi's nephew, former Union Minister, late Murasoli Maran.
It was later passed on to Mr Maran's son Dayanidhi, who is now Union Communications and Information Technology Minister.
Mr Stalin, also addressed as 'Dalapathy' (commander) by partymen, is the Deputy General Secretary of the DMK. He first won from this constituency in the 1989 Assembly polls followed by victories in 1996 and 2001 elections.
Mr Rajaram told UNI that the crux of his campaign to win voter confidence was (predictably) Mr Stalin's failure to highlight the needs of the people in the state Assembly.
Apart from his d'tour of the constituency in a jeep, Adhi Rajaram also undertook door to door campaign to 'strike a chord' with voters.
Underlining the fact it was Ms Jayalalithaa's government initiative to reach out to the tsunami victims, he says, ''It was the Amma government, which had provided timely succour during the tsunami and flood havoc due to very heavy rains.'' He blames his rival, Mr Stalin for failure to rise to the occasion. Of the 289 days Assembly session, he failed to take up the constituency's problems even for nine days, he alleges, emphatically.
''It is Amma's government again, which is currently providing roads here'', he points out.
As for his own agenda, Rajaram has promised voters to attend to civic problems like sanitation in slums and cleaning up of the Mambalam canal putting an end to the mosquito menace.
''I also have plans to create opportinities for self-employment and provide education to the poor.' He charged that Mr Stalin had failed to utilise his constituency development fund fully to develop the place.
For Mr Stalin, who has already contested five times from Thousand Lights is confident of a 'cake-walk' this time too, a host of leaders including Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Minister of State and Congress leader G K Vasan have campaigned.
For his part, Stalin, accompanied by his son, a party supporter and a singer belting out songs in his praise, apart from cadre dancing in front of the vehicle, rides through the streets, hands folded in the 'vanakkam' sign. He too has done door-to-door campaign. A few women supporting the DMK even took him to a pavement temple and performed 'pooja' as he stood by 'obediently', to please them.
Among Mr Stalin's promises to the poorer sections in the constituency is provision of pucca tenements and new measures to ease traffic congestion for the public in general.
Apart from the DMK and AIADMK, the BJP's M Sivalingam and actor Vijayakanth's new party, in the fray for the first time, represented by M Thalapathy and as many as 22 Independents are vying for honours.
The DMK won this constituency seven out of ten times between 1957 and 1996. K A Mathialagan, another prominent DMK party leader performed a hat trick winning three in a row in 1962, 1967 and 1971.
The AIADMK, which is hoping to wrest the constituency from its archrival, had won in 1980, 1984 and 1991 through late K A Krishnasamy, before the DMK took it back again.