The AIADMK and the DMK have had a close contest in Ulundurpet over the past 5 elections, and Vijayakant wants to change that

TN Polls Will Captain be able to guide the PWF ship to victory in Ulundurpet
news TN 2016 Thursday, May 05, 2016 - 17:19

“We want to be reminded of Vijayakant the actor sometimes. Like how Jayalalithaa invokes MGR in song and dialogue and posters, we want to see his avatar as an actor. Maybe that will help him win,”says Senthil, a Captain fan who says is miffed with the DMDK leader's lack of strategy.  

In Ulundurpet, the skepticism around Captain’s repeated jumps, from Vridhachalam to Rishivandhiyam and now here, prevails after he announced he would be contesting in the constituency. Regardless, Villupuram has been his district to turn to due to a large fan base in the area, and he’s counting on it this time to turn around a possible bad run at his previous constituencies.

“We’ve heard that Rishivandhiyam was not happy with him, that he would never turn up to see anyone at the constituency, and now that he’s standing for a Chief MInisteral position, he definitely won’t turn up here,”  says Abdul Hakeem, a self-confessed fan of Vijayakanth who says the charm he once possessed has now faded for him.

Over the past 5 elections, the AIADMK and the DMK have had a close contest, with AIADMK MLA Kumaraguru winning by a fair margin in 2011. Locals have been kind to him. “You’ll see him at every wedding, every local event, and he lives just around the corner so anyone can meet him. Every Pongal, he distributes free  food and dhotis. He has a lot of support here,” says Tharul Asrath, a local. He has a good chance, many say, if not for the clout of Vijayakant.

K Balu, the lawyer of Divya in the Divya-Ilavarasan case, has been fielded by the PMK as a formidable candidate against Vijayakant, hoping to bag the caste vote. Of late, the PMK has begun to rake in large crowds at its rallies and meetings in the constituency, but the Vanniyar base in the town, a significant 20% that the PMK is dependent on, is split between voting for DMK and PMK. GR Vasanthavel, a local candidate, was fielded by the DMK, dropping the MMK candidate after Vijayakant announced he would be contesting. “If DMK stands, people will vote for Kalaignar’s name, there isn’t a significant minority vote for MMK to be fielded.”

Five kilometres away from the town is Pandur, where many rural voters are concentrated. The town is going to see a tough fight between the PMK and DMDK due to the predominant castes being Vanniyars and Paraiyars. “We like Vijayakant, we feel proud an actor is contesting from our town,” says Manickam, a first time voter who says many others in the village like him are voting for Vijayakant’s star power.

But this time, whether Captain will be able to make a dent in the polls is doubtful. “Votes will definitely split because of the growing PMK support, the Vijayakant fans and the DMK-AIADMK legacy voters. If he wins, he will win narrowly,” says Pandian, a farmers union leader, who has traditionally seen votes among the village work in Vijayakant's favour with ease. Negative voting might harm his chances, and unlike Rishivandhyam and Vridhachalam, he may not come out unscathed this time. Women voters are judicious in their praise for Premalatha however. "I think she should do the talking and just put her husband's face in the posters," laughs Selvi, a Pandur local.

A tea shop tucked away from the afternoon heat in Arali, another neigbouring village on the Trichy highway, is decked in party colours and a garrish poster of Vijayakant. Arasu is ecstatically pouring tea and looking for a famous song to play of Vijayakant's. "There should be an excitement here, but even Captain doesn't seem so thrilled anymore. So I am doing my bit and campaigning for him until he comes here," Arasu says. 

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