AIADMK’s candidate and incumbent Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa may have a clear edge over her, but Simla says she is unfazed by it.

People have access to me unlike Jayalalithaa Meet DMKs Simla Muthuchozhan who will take on the TN CM
news TN 2016 Friday, April 15, 2016 - 14:13

While her official foray into politics was 5 years ago, DMK candidate Simla Muthuchozhan had a rather unconventional introduction to it all. “When the driver wasn’t in early enough, I would step in as my mother-in-law’s driver to ferry her around party meetings. Overhearing conversations and meeting people in the process gave me an insight into it all,” she confesses with a chuckle. 

Hailing from Nagercoil, Simla has lived under the shadow of the DMK for 25 years now. Armed with a law and management degree, she has been the convener of the legal wing of the North Chennai Women’s Wing of the DMK and is also the propaganda secretary of the Women’s Wing of the party. Her mother-in law is Sarguna Pandian, former state minister handed over the reins to her recently.

AIADMK’s candidate and incumbent Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa may have a clear edge over her, but Simla is learning to keep up and says she is unfazed by it.

“I was probably fielded because I know the area like no one else. I am also, a woman,” she says, “but I know can win this. Kalaignar Karunanidhi and Stalin have faith in me for a reason.”  Fair points. She’s often seen out and about on a two-wheeler meeting people who regard her as one of their own families, proof, she says, of her accessibility. But honouring the ties with her own family may just be her very first priority.

Many of her mother-in-law’s schemes, she says, have collected dust since the DMK lost its power in the area. “ Infrastructure projects that the DMK has started is still pending. The Korrukupet flyover, the Ennore Manali road – RK Nagar is still not as developed as it can be. And drainage issues are never ending. What my mother-in-law intended to change, I want to carry out,” she says. 

Party members say her work during the floods was worth taking note of. “When the floods happened, Jayalalithaa did nothing. The layers of tar road after tar road that she had commissioned to be laid had given away, and water entered houses faster than expected,” she explains. And that’s where Simla hopes the vote will go. “We met people everyday even since then, asking if their families were okay. We provided all that we could to help them get back on track,” she says. No one from the AIADMK, she alleges, bothered to visit the area.

The conversation trails while she gets up to receive more bouquets and congratulations from nearby residents. “I have what Amma doesn’t have – people who actually can come to my house and interact with me at any point of time. Does she have that?,” she remarks, a sliver of confidence in her tone surfacing. Her mother-in-law is slumped on a chair, smiling wearily at people who enter and leave the house.  She says, “I was the driver then, I am the driver now. Only difference - I own the keys.” 

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