Chennai: A no-holds-barred campaign veering around personal attacks in the fortnight-long electioneering between bitter rivals ruling DMK and AIADMK for the April 13 assembly polls came to an end on Monday. Shorn of the shrillness of election campaign due to the Election Commission's hawk-eyed vigil, electioneering was on a quiet mode and without poll trappings like wall writings and posters. Personal attacks overtook policies and programmes of the political parties in the campaign, in which candidates mainly concentrated on door-to-door canvassing.
Over 4.6 crore voters, men slightly outnumbering women, are expected to exercise their franchise to elect 234 members to the Tamil Nadu assembly. The fate of 2,773 candidates, including DMK leader and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi (Tiruvarur), his arch rival and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa (Srirangam), Karunanidhi's son and Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin (Kolathur) and DMDK founder Vijayakanth (Rishivandyam) will be decided on Wednesday.
Personal attacks against Karunanidhi and his family members by Jayalalithaa and Vijayakanth and against the AIADMK chief by Stalin and complaints by the rival party leaders against each other to the EC forced it to send notices to
these leaders seeking explanations. Karunanidhi harped on the theme of development and berated the EC repeatedly for its actions, accusing it of creating an 'emergency like situation'.
Karunanidhi, addressing a public meeting at Tiruvarur, assured people that he would not hurt anyone's religious sentiments though he was an atheist. "We are not enemy of gods, but whether gods will accept us..." he said.
He alleged that someone had taken a vow to eradicate the Dravidian movement from Tamil Nadu but did not elaborate. "They will not succeed in their efforts," Karunanidhi said.
On the other hand, Jayalalithaa asked voters to rid the state of 'family rule' of the DMK patriarch and targeted Karunanidhi over "rampant corruption" and "collapse" of law and order. Hike in prices of essential commodities and frequent power cuts were issues picked up by the Opposition to attack
the DMK government during the campaign.
Winding up her campaign in Chennai, Jayalalithaa charged the DMK with distributing money to voters. "This will not affect our party's victory," she said. She promised subsidy for Hindus visiting Mansarovar for worship.
Refuting Jayalalithaa's charges, Stalin said Jayalalithaa had no family and did not know its value. "In a way, her charge of family rule was right as Kalaignar
(Karunanidhi) treated all Tamils as his family members. Each and every family in the state got some benefits during his rule."
The 2G spectrum scam, in which DMK leader and former telecom minister A Raja has been issued charge sheet, took a backseat in the campaign, though Jayalalithaa had mentioned about it at Perambalur, native place of Raja.
Charges of distribution of money to lure voters had been raised by both DMK and AIADMK and officials had seized about Rs 25 crore since the campaign started.
The presence of a host of filmstars like Vijayakant, an actor-turned-politician, comedian Vadivelu, who proved to be a crowd puller for DMK, Khushboo and Hema Malini added colour to the otherwise lacklustre campaign.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, AICC President Sonia Gandhi, AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, BJP leaders L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Narendra Modi, Left leaders Prakash Karat and A B Bardhan were
some of the national leaders who campaigned for their party's nominees.