Kanyakumari: After it supported the ruling DMK and its allies overwhelmingly in the 2006 Assembly elections, this southern-most district in Tamil Nadu is witnessing a triangular contest in many constituencies with the BJP candidates giving a tough fight to the DMK and AIADMK nominees.
In the last elections, the AIADMK-MDMK combine drew a blank in this district and this time the party is contesting in four constituencies and leaving one each to allies CPI (M) and DMDK.
While AIADMK to trying to regain its lost ground, DMK is working hard to continue the momentum it got in the last polls.
This district, which has a history of long-held rivalry between Hindu Nadars and Christian Nadars, now has six constituencies after the delimitation process during which one segment was abolished.
In all six constituencies Kanyakumari, Nagercoil, Colachal, Padmanabhapuram, Vilavancode and Kiliyoor in the district, the ruling and the opposition combines are facing an uphill task in the presence of BJP candidates. The BJP has considerable presence in this district and BJP's Pon Radhakrishnan emerged second in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls pushing AIADMK combine's nominee to the third slot.
If caste is the major factor in Tirunelveli district, it is religion in this district which boasts of high-level literacy rates. Christian Nadars and the fishermen community hold the key to the victory of candidates in all the six
Nagercoil, which now has more Hindu-dominated areas, is witnessing an interesting contest between BJP s Radhakrishnan, Mahesh of DMK and AIADMK s Nanjil Murugesan. Radhakrishnan is walking the extra mile to win the confidence of the people by wooing Christians and Muslims.
But, the church plays a major role. Majority of the Christians, especially women, go by what the church says. This time, both DMK and AIADMK have been making efforts to get the support of the church but in vain. The church has not come out in the open on its preference this time.
Locals say the church has been backing DMK in the previous elections. Radhakrishnan is hoping for a magic, thanks to his "Mr Clean" image and the efforts "he took to solve several problems faced by fishermen" when he was a
minister in the Vajpayee Government.
In the district, BJP is harping on the Hindu and other 'neutral' votes to open its account in the state assembly on its own. Earlier, BJP MLAs have won with DMK s support.
In Kanyakumari, Tourism Minister N Suresh Rajan, a close confidant of Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin, appears to be on a sticky wicket with people complaining about his not being accessible to them.
AIADMK s K T Pachaimal, a former Colachal MLA, is giving a tough fight to Rajan accusing him of "ignoring" the constituencies. BJP nominee MR Gandhi is also in the fray.
After delimitation, the constituency has Hindu Nadars and fishermen in equal measures. Fishermen votes play a major role in deciding the victory of the candidates.
In Kiliyoor, the official candidate is facing former MLA Kumaradass who is contesting as an independent. DMDK is testing its popularity in the district as its candidate S Austin is locking horns with DMK s Pushpa Leela Anban in
AIADMK is hoping for a split in Muslim votes with Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, an Muslim outfit, contesting elections as part of the combine.