TN assembly polls: All eyes on Jayalalithaa in Srirangam
There are no flags, posters and hoardings seeking votes from the people on the narrow lanes that lead to the famous Vaishnavite shrine, Sri Ranganathaswamy, but the residents and tourists who flock to this town talk a lot about the Apr 13 elections, especially the contest between Jayalalithaa and her rival DMK's N Anand, an electoral novice.
Gangan, who is into selling and buying cows for the past several decades, says Jayalalithaa's family used to stay in the East Uthara Road that overlooks the Temple and that her father was an advocate.
"She is one among us. She is a native of Srirangam. Jayalalithaa belongs to a very big family and now she is contesting from here....so she has come back to trace her roots," he tells PTI as he discusses the election with one of his friend from a near-by mutt in the South Chitirai Street.
Sreenivasan, a young graduate who is working with the Sri Swarnavarna Theerther Mutt, agrees with him and says he will vote only for the AIADMK chief.
"I will vote only for her...It's my wish. I am inspired by her and I will vote for her only," he says when asked to explain why he will vote for Jayalalithaa.
The discussion again comes back to Jayalalithaa's origin and what her ancestors were doing here. Gangan claimed the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister was born here and her family later migrated to Mysore in Karnataka.
"They were here only and her father was a lawyer... they come from a very well-off family...later they went to some other place. But she belongs to this town," he said.
He also claimed that almost everyone in Srirangam knew that Jayalalithaa belongs to this town and the outside world came to know about this only now after she herself said she hails from here.
Gururajan, Manager of the Mutt, joins the discussions after keenly listening to it. Before one could ask a question, his answer is categorical.
"She is from this town of Srirangam and she will win. People used to think her family lived in the East Uthara Road, but Jayalalithaa says they stayed in South Chitirai Street," he claimed.
All the three opined that electing Jayalalithaa would be the "sensible" choice as she belongs to this place and has promised to look into the demands of the people of Srirangam.
Just yards away from this mutt lies the East Utara Street, which is now the cynosure of all eyes as people believe this is where Jayalalithaa's family had lived.
From retired government officials to housewives to young children, all seem to have excited over the fact that a person who hails from Srirangam and went onto became the state's chief minister is contesting from here.
"She must have contested from anywhere...this is not the only place where her party is strong...But we people in Srirangam feel she chose the constituency because of her love to this place," Narayan, a retired government servant, said.
"She will win....she belongs to this place and people will vote for her," he said.