Ramadoss faces tough contest at TN's star seat of Pennagaram
The seat has assumed star status with AIADMK heavyweight and former Minister K P Munusamy, PMK's Chief Ministerial candidate Anbumani Ramadoss, who is also the sitting Lok Sabha MP from Dharmapuri and locally influential DMK nominee P N P Inbasekaran jumping into the poll fray.
Pennagaram had hit the headlines when DMK fought PMK in the 2010 bypoll to retain the seat after the death of its MLA P N Periannan, who had won in 2006. Periannan's son P N P Inbasekaran won the 2010 bypoll by 36,384 votes and PMK ended as a runner-up with other candidates including the AIADMK nominee losing their deposits.
In the 1996 and 2001 Assembly elections, PMK's G K Mani had won. In 2011, N Nanjappan of CPI won as an AIADMK ally.
The poll scenario in this election is more difficult for parties than ever before. Interactions with voters by this correspondent here and in other areas of the constituency including Hogenakkal, Koothapadi, B Agraharam, Ootamalai, Mangapatti, Makkanur and Papparapatti revealed a tough triangular neck to neck fight among DMK, PMK and AIADMK.
In places like Koothapadi and Makkanur, the contest mainly appears to be between PMK and DMK while in other areas like Nayakkanur, the fight seems to be between AIADMK and PMK. In villages like Mangapatti, PMK seems to have an upperhand where DMK and AIADMK are working hard to make a dent.
Clearly, PMK is at the centre of the battle putting up a hard fight against AIADMK and DMK across the constituency.CPI, which is fighting polls as part of the DMDK-PWF-TMC front, does not appear to be in the reckoning.
In places where Vanniyars are a majority or are a sizable chunk like Koothapadi, PMK which is going it alone, is leaving no stone unturned to get their votes in its favour in bulk.
PMK is also trying hard to convince people of other communities to not give yet another opportunity to the "corrupt AIADMK and DMK."
However, people of other communities, notably Dalits and Muslims, are not convinced.
P A Krishnan, a resident of Papparapatti says "the fortunes of PMK which is trying very hard to win this seat depends on consolidation of Vanniyar votes and if it can make some inroads into the vote banks of other communities."