VELLORE: Curtains went up on Saturday for another equally crucial electoral battle for both the ruling AIADMK and opposition DMK in Tamil Nadu, as leaders of the two Dravidian majors braced up for a high-stake fight in the August 5 Lok Sabha poll in Vellore constituency, an election cancelled by EC earlier in April.
For both the Chief Minister, Edappadi K. Palaniswami and the DMK president M. K. Stalin, the Vellore LS poll battle is a nebulous fire walk. For the DMK-Congress front, after a sweep of 38 of the 39 seats in the general elections held in April, any setback here will be a huge political embarrassment, to say the least. The DMK has fielded Kathir Anand, son of party senior Durai Murugan, in the fray.
On the other hand, should the AIADMK not be able to make its nominee, the New Justice Party candidate A. C. Shanmugam, contesting on the AIADMK’s ‘two leaves’ symbol, to make it to the Lok Sabha, the electorate’s disenchantment with the ruling party in Tamil Nadu would all the more get reinforced, say analysts.
It is in this backdrop that the two leaders rolled out their campaigns today. While Stalin began the campaign in Vellore on a warm, personal note by meeting voters on a morning walk that took him through ‘Uzhavar Sandhai’ here and other areas and people taking selfies with him, Palaniswami began his intense electioneering from an open van at Vaniyambadi and Ambur in the district.
Palaniswami trained his guns on the DMK having won in April with “false promises made to the people, just as children were induced with lollipops, and saying they will come to rule at both Centre and in State.”
With both not happening, Palaniswami dared Stalin to unfurl another set of ‘false promises’.
AIADMK rule beyond reproach: Palaniswami
Asserting that the AIADMK government's rule in Tamil Nadu was beyond any reproach in the past over two years since he took over, Chief Minister, Edappadi K Palaniswami said, "our governance has the quality stamp like the ISI certificate."
Launching the campaign for the AIADMK-led NDA at Vaniyambadi in the district for the August 5 Lok Sabha election from Vellore, Mr. Palaniswami said this was testified by his party's governance record with 'Amma's government fulfilling one promise after another it had given to the people during the 2016 Assembly polls.
Listing the AIADMK's achievements, Mr. Palaniswami said, in a first free laptops were being given to government school students at the Plus-2 level, creation of ten lakh jobs for the youth and ensuring that Tamil Nadu was 'power surplus' with a total installed electricity generation capacity of 16,000 mw.
"We will fulfill all our promises, but the DMK after having made false promises during the April Lok Sabha polls, finds itself on the defensive now as the party is neither in power at the Centre nor in the State," the Chief Minister said. Mr. Stalin for instance assured to the electorate that jewel loans up to five sovereigns in cooperative and nationalized banks will be waived.
"But what can they (DMK) do now," he asked. On the contrary, the AIADMK has given agriculture loans to farmers to the tune of Rs.20,000 crore so far against Rs 6,000 crore given under the previous DMK regime," Mr. Palaniswami taunted, adding, the DMK's win in the Lok Sabha polls in April was not a 'genuine victory'. Hence, the DMK was fighting shy of meeting the electorate now, he added.
Accusing Mr. Stalin of trying various means to "topple" the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Palaniswami said, "how many ever Avataars Stalin make take, he will not be able to do it." The DMK was in the grip of 'dynastic' politics and the party has been reduced to a 'corporate company', charged Mr. Palaniswami.
Speaking also at Ambur, Mr. Palaniswami said there was no caste or communal conflicts under the AIADMK rule and assured that his government will continue to protect the welfare of the Minorities including Muslims.
It was the DMK's cash-for-votes bid that led to the Vellore LS poll having been cancelled in April and people have "seen through their game", claimed Mr. Palaniswami....