Will BJP make history by winning Nagercoil?

via PTI published on April 11, 2011

NAGERCOIL: For the first time in over 25 years, this constituency in southern Tamil Nadu is all set to get a Hindu MLA with all three major parties, including the BJP, fielding nominees from the community, but the key to the victory still lies with the dominant Christian Nadars.

The contest in this constituency bordering Kerala promises to be a political potboiler with BJP candidate Pon Radhakrishnan, who was a minister of state in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, giving a tough fight to DMK’s Mahesh and Nanjil Murugesan of AIADMK. All three candidates belong to Hindu Nadar community.

 DMK’s S Retnaraj was the last Hindu MLA to be elected from this seat in 1984. From 1987 to 2006, the seat was represented by various Christian Nadars.

Hindu Nadars and Christian Nadars in this district have had a long rivalry and it still persists in despite the district having a high literacy rate. Religion has always been a factor in deciding lawmakers in this district.

BJP, which has a considerable presence in the southern-most Kanyakumari district, is hoping to romp home from this seat and it stems from the fact that the constituency has undergone a major overhaul in the delimitation process with many Hindu-dominated areas attached to it.

BJP would script history if it wins the seat as it would be the first time the party would enter the Assembly without being in alliance with any Dravidian party.

His ‘Mr Clean’ image and efforts he took to solve the problems of fishermen in the district when he was a minister could come handy for Radhakrishnan, but he needs the support of Christian Nadars and Muslims to enter the state Assembly.

Though Radhakrishnan has been wooing Christians and meeting members of the Nagercoil Diocese, it seems the church has not given any assurance. DMK leader and Union minister M K Alagiri had also met the bishop last week apparently to seek support for the DMK candidate. AIADMK is also understood to have sought the church’s support.

The other two candidates also being Hindus is another problem for Radhakrishnan as the votes would get split. However, the former BJP MP is appealing to Christians and Muslims to vote for him as “he was not their enemy”.

In 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Radhakrishnan polled more votes than DMK’s Helen Davidson here, but he could only end up as second because Christians overwhelmingly voted in favour of the DMK.

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