With the 2019 Lok Sabha elections fast approaching, Tamil Nadu is likely to witness a face-off between two powerful women leaders in the state: DMK MP Kanimozhi and BJP State President Tamilisai Soundararajan. Both leaders are vying for the Thoothukudi constituency in the state.
Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Kanimozhi officially sought party approval to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Thoothukudi constituency in Tamil Nadu. Arriving at Anna Arivalayam, the party headquarters in Chennai’s Teynampet, the leader filed an application registering her interest to contest from the seat on Monday. If the party approves her candidature, this would be the first time that she is facing elections in her twelve-year political career.
Speaking to media persons shortly after filing her interest, DMK MP Kanimozhi said that the party would first have to decide and announce who its candidates are before she could answer questions. When asked what her platform for seeking votes would be, she said, "Not just me. There are many people’s problems in this administration. Starting from water issues, none of the issues have been resolved. They continue to exist. All of us will talk about whatever problems that Thalapathy(DMK President MK Stalin) highlights and talks about."
Accompanied by the DMK’s Organizing Secretary RS Bharathi and party veteran TR Baalu, Kanimozhi’s application comes months before her term in Rajya Sabha ends this July. The 50-year-old leader was nominated to the Upper House in 2007 when she launched her political career when her father M Karunanidhi was leading the party. She also serves as the Secretary of the party’s Women’s Wing.
Meanwhile, Tamilisai Soundararajan, state chief of the BJP, had originally sought to contest from the South Chennai parliamentary constituency. This, however, did not sit well with alliance partner and ruling party AIADMK in the state. Sources in the AIADMK had told TNM in February that south Chennai would likely be retained for current AIADMK MP Dr Jayavardhan Jayakumar, son of senior AIADMK leader and Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar. With their alliance formalized earlier last month, BJP was assigned 5 seats in Tamil Nadu under the AIADMK alliance which also comprises the Pattali Makkal Katchi(PMK) and Puthiya Tamilagam(PT).
The BJP leader is expected to garner support with the national party's Union Minister Piyush Goyal all set to address booth workers in Thoothukudi on Monday.
The leaders’ choice of constituency is also significant for the state for Thoothukudi district witnessed the shooting of 14 unarmed civilians in May last year during the agitation against pollution caused by Vedanta’s Sterlite copper smelter. The protests against the plant, lasting over two decades, came to the fore after expansion plans for the smelter were announced.