On 6th April 2021, Tamil Nadu will vote to elect members for the Sixteenth Legislative Assembly. Elections, rightly called the “Festival of Democracy”, is the lifeline of any functioning democracy and Tamil Nadu is no exception. While any elections is generally a noisy affair, with clashes between ideologies, personalities, etc, some Constituencies deserve top billing, due to the actors at play. One such Constituency is Aravakurichi, which is part of Karur Lok Sabha. Here, the BJP has fielded the young and articulate Annamalai Kuppuswamy, who resigned from the Police service to plunge into active politics. The current MLA is Mr Senthil Balaji, who won the seat twice, once each from the two main Dravidian parties. His decision to shift from Aravakurichi to the neighbouring Karur has set off a series of claims from both the BJP & DMK camps. It is claimed by DMK campers that Mr Balaji shifted to take on a formidable sitting Minister in Karur. However, the BJP feels that Mr Balaji deserting the constituency as an act of conceding defeat to the well-liked Annamalai. On our recent visit to the Constituency, it appears that BJP has carved out a well-oiled campaign plan. BJP has divided the Constituency into 8 Zones. A 12 to 15 member volunteer teams go on a door-to-door campaign covering every nook and cranny of the constituency. This volunteer team consists of completely apolitical people, who have taken off from their regular day jobs, to help in the campaign. Some of them have travelled as far as Karnataka. This shows the goodwill Mr Annamalai enjoyed during his Policing days. With more than 300 voting booths and close to 2.1 Lakh voters, Mr Annamalai is ably supported by NDA partners in his campaign. Apart from them, Youths who were part of his NGO, “We The Leaders” seems to be playing a key role in booth management. The volunteer team explains the significance of the Central Govt Welfare schemes and how the TN Govt has ensured its effective implementation, be it Jal Jeevan Mission, PM Kisan Yojna, etc. This is resulting in an effective reach of the last mile voter. Mr Annamalai himself is following a gruelling 18-hour schedule covering the remote villages in his campaign vehicle and foot. His typical day starts with a visit to the local temple in the chosen village followed by meeting the prospective voters. He usually gets a rousing welcome complete with Aartis, applause, etc. He patiently listens to the demands of his voters. Being a homegrown candidate, there is palpable chemistry between Mr Annamalai and his constituents. DMK has fielded Mr P R Elango, who seem to have the complete confidence of the Minorities, who are majorly concentrated in the Pallapatti Town Panchayat. People in Pallapatti seems to like Mr Annamalai but may not show their love through the ballots. Though Mr Annamalai is seen making some moves to win over them, it may not pay electoral dividends. During our interaction with villagers, it appears that people are yearning for a change and seem to reckon that they have a chance to affect the change. The buzz in Aravakurichi is that it could be a home run for the local boy. Let us wait for May 2, 2021.
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