Tamilisai vs Kanimozhi: Can TN political heavyweights prevail over a dismal term in Thoothukudi constituency?
This is the first polls since the 2018 shooting in Thoothukudi district during the anti-Sterlite protests and two women star leaders are locked in what is expected to be a tough contest.
As Tamil Nadu is all set to go to polls during the second phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, all eyes will be on the Thoothukudi constituency. Two political big names from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are contesting here amid a situation of constant tension in the constituency.
The biggest issue that candidates will have to address in Thoothukudi is the 2018 shooting during the anti-sterlite protests. On May 22, 2018, at least 13 people were killed in a police firing during protests against the Sterlite Copper plant over environmental concerns. Since then, the plant has been shut down. However, recently, environmental activist Mugilan alleged the involvement of top cops during the police firing with incriminating evidence. Just hours after his expose, the activist went missing on February 15 and is still yet to be found. Mugilan’s friends and supporters suspect the involvement of the state government and the police.
Needless to say, there is massive anti-incumbency against the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) state government and the BJP-led central government. So, it would really be interesting to see if Tamilisai can indeed garner the votes needed to win despite her work at the grassroots level. On the other hand, the anti-incumbency may work in favour of Kanimozhi.
But, apart from the present scenario in the constituency, which leader among the two has the advantage? Well, on paper, Kanimozhi has the clear advantage. Apart from being the daughter of recently-deceased DMK stalwart M Karunandhi, political observers say she also enjoys the support of the Nadar community and Muslims in Thoothukudi. Kanimozhi has also been one of the few Rajya Sabha MPs who has strongly stood up for issues in Tamil Nadu in the Parliament previously. She was also named ‘Best woman MP’ in 2018.
BJP state President Tamilisai Soudararajan also comes from strong political roots. She is the daughter of prominent Congress leader Kumari Anandan. Though Kanimozhi too has grown up in a political family, she did not have a choice other than to carry on the family tradition. But, Tamilisai made her own choice to join the BJP and has far more experience working on the field compared to her DMK rival. This said, Tamilisai has lost several state assembly and Parliamentary elections despite her work and she might also face the brunt of the anti-incumbency over the Sterlite issue.
Here’s a quick breakdown of statistics for the constituency:
This star fight and the Sterlite issue have certainly stolen the limelight of this year’s elections here. But the voters in the constituency would definitely be more concerned about the basic civic issues in the constituency.
Pon Kumaran, Thoothukudi candidate from Kamal Haasan’s newly-formed party Makkal Needhi Maiam, in an interview to Asiaville, urged the voters in the constituency to read the manifestos of all parties and choose the candidates wisely based on the work they have done at the ground level.
“When I talked to people from the villages in the constituency, I questioned why the government has failed for over 50 years. No people here live without worry. How can they? A lot of people don’t have access to even to roads, good drinking water or schools. At the end of the day, this is what matters more to people,” he said.
The polling date for the constituency is on April 18, 2019.