AAP entry into poll fray worries VCK, MDMK, Left in TN

Madurai: With anti-nuclear activists plunging into the poll fray as AAP candidates in Kanyakumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, MDMK and Left parties are worried about their prospects in these constituencies.

S P Udayakumar, coordinator of People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which spearheaded the nearly three-year-long protest against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tirunelveli and his colleagues Pushparayan and M P Jesuraj are contesting as AAP candidates in these constituencies.

Udayakumar alleged that Congress, AIADMK, DMK, DMDK and the Left parties have failed to win the confidence of the people on the nuclear issue, while Pushparayan maintained that his colleague's decision to contest could work against the prospects of secular parties losing the Christian vote.

Ignatius, a native of Idinthakarai, nerve centre of the anti-nuclear protest, said his community's option was to elect AAP candidates. Some may even sympathise with BJP though it was not fighting in Tuticorin and Tirunelveli, as Congress and AIADMK were 'harsh' in curbing the anti-nuke protest, he said.

Local level leaders of VCK in Tuticorin and other areas felt the prospects of their front candidate was not good as the entry of AAP into the fray would split the votes. Similar sentiments were echoed by leaders of MDMK and Left parties.

Jesuraj, a local priest, felt vote banks of both Congress and AIAMDK could take a hit on the nuclear plant issue.

He recalled that ruling AIADMK had earlier opposed it, but later supported Congress and 'crushed' their agitation by filing false cases against Udhayakumar and hundreds of others.

"More than 400 cases had been filed against anti-nuclear activists for their democratic agitation, which has claimed six lives," he said.

Jesuraj alleged that the state government was not even willing to withdraw the cases, though it had agreed in the Supreme Court to withdraw some others.

Government officials, however, maintained they had no option except to support construction of Kudankulam plant due to the power crisis in the state. Tamil Nadu was now getting about 700 MW from Unit I and Unit II was also nearing completion, they said.

Anti-nuclear activist K Rajan feels there is a very strong anti-incumbency wave against UPA which would be reflected in the LS poll. People believe the plant could harm their environment and affect their livelihood of fishing.

But Madasamy, another resident, says there are many other issues like lack of industries in the area. Though AIADMK and DMK are main rivals in the constituencies, split of votes by anti-nuclear activists would decide the winner, he felt.

PTI
First Published: Sunday, March 30, 2014, 21:45
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