BJP candidate L Ganesan faces opponents in the traditional base of Dravidian parties

Will Narendra Modi’s popularity help the BJP in Chennai — the citadel of the two Dravidian parties?

Modi’s election rally in the city on Sunday gave a boost to senior BJP candidate L Ganesan, who hopes his leader’s popularity will help him win in the South Chennai constituency and open an account for the party — a stronghold of the DMK and the AIADMK.

“Modi-ji’s popularity will certainly help me win this election,” said Ganesan, 69, who describes himself as a social worker in his election affidavit.

ButGanesan has formidable opponents from the two Dravidian parties. The DMK shifted its spokesperson TKS Elangovan from Chennai North to South, hoping he will fare well in the new constituency.

The AIADMK denied a ticket to sitting MP C Rajendran and nominated J Jayavardhan, the son of former Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker, D Jayakumar. He has been highlighting the achievements of the AIADMK government in the State and the various scams in which members of both the Congress and the DMK were involved.

The Congress has announced SV Ramani as its candidate in South Chennai. He is a member of the Communications Department of the All-India Congress Committee. His manifesto says an IIM Madras would be established and women’s safety given priority.

If one goes by the 2011 Assembly elections, the AIADMK has an edge, given that its alliance won all six of the Assembly segments that make up the South Chennai Parliamentary constituency. Since 1957, the DMK has won the South Chennai seat eight times (TR Baalu who was former union minister for shipping and environment has won four times); Congress five times with actress Vyjanthimala Baali and former president R Venkatraman winning three times; and the AIADMK two times. Issues such as water, shortage of power, safety of women and mosquito menace, dominate the election in this ‘cosmopolitan’ constituency and the IT hub of the State.

“We get water every alternate day, but only for three hours in the morning,” said S Geetha, a housewife in Mylapore.

Safety of women is a major concern, said G Banupriya, a housewife and a resident of Velachery. “I have made a note of all the complaints and will come with a manifesto soon. A committee has been set up to address local issues,” Ganesan told Business Line .

Canvassing for the National Democratic Alliance on Sunday in South Chennai, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Modi referred to Ganesan as “his very old friend and colleague who sacrificed his life to work for the country.”

On his part, Elangovan said drinking water and road congestion are the major problems in the constituency, especially in the IT corridor. If elected, he would strive to extend the Mass Rapid Transit System from Tiruvanmiyur to Mahabalipuram.

South consists of Virugambakkam, Saidapet, T Nagar, Mylapore, Velachery and Sholinganallur Assembly segments with 17 lakh voters.

(This article was published on April 16, 2014)
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