Two glasses of cold jigarthanda — the famous drink of Madurai — were not enough to cool one down from the summer heat in the temple town. However, there was no such heat on the political front in the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu with just three days left for the Lok Sabha elections.

In the past, Madurai was considered a major stronghold of the Congress, which won the seat eight times since independence. The seat then moved to the CPM, which won four times. DMK’s Madurai strongman and former Union Minister, MK Alagiri, won the seat in 2009. However, in 2014, AIADMK’s R Gopalakrishnan won the seat by defeating DMK’s V Velusamy while in 2019, CPM’s S Venkatesan beat AIADMK’s Raj Satyen.

This time, the city will witness a tough three-way battle between a writer (incumbent, CPM’s S Venkatesan), a doctor (AIADMK’s P Saravanan) and an orator (BJP’s Raama Srinivasan). Out of the six Assembly constituencies, four are held by the DMK and two by the AIADMK — showing the strong backup for the DMK-led alliance in which the CPM is a partner.

There is an anti-incumbency factor against Venkatesan, who the locals claim did not do enough for the constituency in the last five years in providing infrastructure such as roads — which is the biggest issue in most of the constituencies in the State. Locals rue that the city, which attracts lakhs of tourists from across India every year, lacks the basic amenities.

Jayalalithaa factor

Manickam, an auto driver, said the CPM and its alliance partner DMK did not do anything for the constituency.

The DMK stopped whatever J Jayalalithaa launched, he said, referring to the cancellation of a popular marriage assistance scheme for girls that has existed in Tamil Nadu for three decades, launched by the former Chief Minister. The DMK also stopped distribution of laptops, he said, adding this could impact the CPM’s chances.

Lack of jobs is a major issue in the constituency. No new industries have opened up in the last five years, says Ganesh, who owns a small mobile shop. He predicts a win for the CPM candidate only because of the alliance the DMK has with the Congress. This will help consolidation of minority votes. If the BJP and the AIADMK had joined hands, the combine would have had an edge, he added.


Raama Srinivasan in his manifesto for Madurai has promised deepening of the Vaigai river; develop Madurai city and desilt the Vaigai River — a demand by the locals for many years. He also promised to upgrade the Madurai airport.

CPM’s Venkatesan said he would focus on the overall development of the constituency and his rival Saravanan has promised many things, including a perfume factory and an ambulance facility in each constituency.

Modi impact

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visits to Madurai boosted the morale of the BJP-led alliance consisting of smaller parties like TTV Dhinakaran’s AMMK and GK Vasan’s TMC. However, whether the huge crowd that Modi attracted in his rallies will translate into votes, and in turn help Srinivasan win the prestigious Madurai seat is a question mark.

The DMK-led alliance with the Congress and CPM, and the presence of smaller parties like VCK and MDMK has an edge due to consolidation of minority votes.

Lack of enthusiasm

The enthusiasm of a Lok Sabha election was missing while travelling through the constituency. On the contrary, people are busy preparing for the festival of Lord Kallazhagar entering the Vaigai river on April 23 as part of the annual Chithirai festival. Lakhs of devotees from Madurai and surrounding regions will occupy every available inch of space in the vicinity of Vaigai near the Albert Victor bridge to witness the spectacle.