Aranthangi (TN): He has been the darling
of the masses here and commands considerable respect, but
former BJP Union minister S Thirunavukarasu may have to walk
the extra mile this time to enter the Tamil Nadu Assembly for
the seventh term from his traditional stronghold, this time on
a Congress ticket.
People in this rural constituency in Pudukottai
district near Tiruchirapalli in central part of the state
still remember Thirunavukarasu`s "good work and good nature"
but they do express disappointment over his frequent changing
The blue-eyed boy of late Tamil Nadu chief minister M
G Ramachandran, Thirunavukarasu first contested from this seat
in 1977 when the AIADMK ventured into electoral politics and
had won all the successive elections - four times as AIADMK
candidate and once as an Independent.
He fell out with AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa in 1990s
and then launched his own outfit MGRADMK only to merge it with
the parent party in 1995. After the 1996 elections, he again
fell out with Jayalalithaa and relaunched his outfit. In 1999,
he got elected to Lok Sabha from Pudukottai seat with the
support of DMK and BJP.
A couple of years later, he merged his outfit with BJP
and unsuccessfully contested the Ramanathapuram seat in May,
2009. Three months later, he joined the Congress which has now
fielded him in his pocket borough.
People are divided on their opinion on
Thirunavukarasu, who has nurtured the constituency for almost
three decades, with a section of them not happy his "frequent
change of loyalties" and another strongly backing him "just
because he is people-friendly and he is a nice person".
Locals and Thirunavukarasu`s supporters claim the
former minister has a "personal vote bank" of around 40,000
votes and if the DMK-Congress combine supporters vote for him
his victory is certain.
A local Congress functionary, who spoke on condition
of anonymity, said Thirunavukarasu`s vote bank has seen a
dramatic decrease in the past few years.
However, the former Union minister of state for
telecommunications and information technology in the Atal
Bihari Vajpayee government says he changed parties "just to
fulfill the needs" of the people.
"I joined BJP thinking that I will be able to do good
to the people of my area. But Christians and Muslims did not
like me joining BJP. I also realised that the party is not
being related to in the state. So, now to do good to the
people, I have joined Congress," the 63-year-old leader said in the middle of his campaigning.
He also expressed confidence that he will enter the
Tamil Nadu Assembly for the seventh time "with a record margin
of 40,000 votes".