The warp and weft of an election rally: Stalin floors Kanchipuram

by Adrian J. Elliott | Monday, Jul 2, 2018 | 907 views

Kanchipuram may be the birth place of ‘Arignar’ Anna, the founder of the DMK.

And for MK Stalin, son of DMK president M Karunanidhi, it must be easy to draw voters’ support for the party in the Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections scheduled for May 16.

Not necessarily, say local party representatives and residents. The DMK and its arch rival, ruling party AIADMK, the ruling party, are the main contenders.

Sure, there is some dissatisfaction with the incumbent government which will benefit the DMK. But the Opposition is split in a five-cornered contest in Tamil Nadu, along party lines and along communal lines.

It could be tough to predict, particularly with the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) likely the third major player in the fray, drawing away votes along communal lines, they say Mexicom.

There are nine Assembly constituencies in the district and all are in Opposition hands. But Stalin is putting up a game fight. He starts his campaign trail in Kanchipuram district from Melmaruvathur, about 80 km from Chennai.

The busy traffic intersection just off NH 45 starts getting crowded as DMK supporters gather from about 3 pm. Traffic starts backing up. Party songs start blaring from loudspeakers and Stalin’s convoy edges slowly through the crowd around 4 pm.

It is still hot with the summer sun blazing down. Dressed in a dark blue-and-red checked shirt, Stalin takes up the mike and addresses the gathering from the top of his van.

He introduces the two DMK candidates contesting from Cheyyur and Madurantkam reserved constituencies — RT Arasu and Pugazhendi. Then, he catches the crowd off guard for a minute when he starts with the need to plant more trees to stave off global warming.

Crowd puller DMK leader MK Stalin addressing a roadside gathering at Sothupakkam, in Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu, on Friday BIJOY GHOSH

Familiar ground

The next minute he is on familiar ground. The AIADMK has vastly exaggerated its schemes on planting 2.62 crore trees in the last five years and claims to have spent ₹175 crore, he says sceptically.

Stalin alleges that there have been irregularities even in tree planting. The crowd applauds.

During the course of the 20-minute speech, he actively engages the gathering, asking questions about the schemes in the DMK manifesto.

If there is a pause in response, he gives the answers and points out that it must be difficult to pick out one or two points from the 501 schemes listed in the manifesto.

Vote for the DMK and its allies including the Congress, if all these promises are to be implemented for the benefit of the State, he exhorts.

Talking about Cheyyur, he recalls the 4,000 MW power project planned by the DMK government but delayed by the present AIADMK government. Where is the desalination project they promised, to obtain drinking water from sea water, he asks.

The convoy then zips away to Madurantakam. The routine is similar. He spends 20 minutes addressing the gathering and moves on to Uthiramerur before reaching Kanchipuram at around 7 pm. He has two more stops to make.

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At Kanchipuram, a traditional centre for handloom weaving and silk, he recalls the DMK founder’s contribution to the cause of weavers and the important role his own father, Karunanidhi, played in supporting the cause of handloom weavers.

The crowd cheers loudly, amplified by the orchestrated speakers placed strategically. He introduces the DMK candidate, CVMP Ezhilarasan, the grandson of a compatriot of Anna.

Silk park

Referring to the emergence of Kanchipuram district as a major industrial hub during the previous DMK regime, Stalin points out that it was the DMK that had originally planned a silk industry park here. But the AIADMK had delayed it, he points out.

No major industrial investments have happened in the past five years, says Stalin.

The DMK will encourage investments with industry friendly measures like speedy clearances for projects, and for the traditional businesses a cooperative bank to support weavers.

The DMK will also support the SME sector and tiny industries by tackling major issues within three months of coming to power, he says before the convoy leaves for the next location.

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