In Tamil Nadu, BJP has set its focus primarily on two regions – West and South. In the South, it is eyeing Lok Sabha constituencies such as Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, Tenkasi, Thoothukudi Virudhunagar, Theni and Ramanathapuram.

In Tirunelveli, the party is placing a significant stake in its candidate Nainar Nagenthran. This Lok Sabha constituency comprises Alangulam, Tirunelveli, Ambasamudram, Palayamkottai, Nanguneri, and Radhapuram assembly constituencies, with 1.64 million voters, including 8.4 lakh women. Tirunelveli is the largest assembly constituency with 3 lakh-plus voters.

In 2019, DMK candidate S Gnanathiraviam defeated the AIADMK candidate, Paul Manoj Pandian, by a margin of 1.85 lakh votes. But this time, the Congress is contesting and has fielded C Robert Bruce, while the AIADMK is fielding a new face Janshi Rani M.

Similar to Kanyakumari, the primary contest in this area is expected to be between the BJP candidate Nainar Nagenthran, a well-known leader who was in the ADMK for a long time, and Robert Bruce.

Nagenthran is now an MLA from Tirunelveli assembly after he won the seat on a BJP ticket in the 2021 assembly elections.

Some of the basic issues he seeks to focus on include getting proper drinking water and adequate transport facilities for school and college-going children in rural areas.

“I always welcome the welfare efforts of politicians regardless of the party they belong to. I have even acknowledged initiatives of DMK in the past. But as far as the above issues are concerned, the DMK government has not done anything to solve these fundamental issues of the people,” Nagenthran told businessline.

Also, while the DMK government created a SIPCOT unit recently, he claims to have made efforts to bring industries into SIPCOT. As far as this constituency is concerned, “we need to create more jobs by attracting more industries, while extending strong support to the farm sector. This will go a long way in addressing caste or religious issues in this region,” he added.

Meanwhile, people in Tirunelveli say that the ADMK candidate is an ‘outsider.’ So, it looks like some diversion of ADMK votes to BJP is inevitable. P Rajendran (60) from Thalaiyuthu near Tirunelveli said he had always voted for ADMK in the past. But this time, he and his entire family (having 20 votes) would cast their votes for the BJP.

Congress candidate Bruce is betting on the core DMK vote base and rural and minority voters in the region to secure a lead. Some of the pockets in this constituency have a sizeable Muslim population, who are expected to go with Congress.