Months before the assembly polls were announced and alliances were struck, the BJP had made a head start at the hustings in Madurai north. The grapevine was that party state general secretary R Srinivasan would be contesting from there. The most prominent face of the BJP in TN, Srinivasan could instil a new-found enthusiasm among the Saffron brigade in Madurai north.
All through the seat negotiations with the AIADMK, the party fought for securing the constituency for itself, all with the sole aim of fielding Srinivasan there. But all the groundwork done over several months went awry when the party national leadership announced the candidature on Sunday. P Saravanan, DMK Thirupparankundram MLA in the outgoing assembly, who could not secure a seat in the Dravidian major, switched camps to the BJP again – he had a stop-over in the BJP in 2015 while vaulting from the MDMK to the DMK – on Sunday morning and went on to secure the party ticket in Madurai north within hours of his joining the party.
BJP cadres in Madurai north resorted to protests for rewarding turncoats and closed the party election office. Srinivasan, who has his roots wellgrounded in the RSS, toed the party leadership’s line and extended support to Saravanan. The dust has settled in the party for now and electioneering is progressing, but the early advantage the BJP gained at the husting may have melted away. Saravanan, a doctor by profession, lives in the same constituency and also runs a hospital there. He claims he has spent money from his pocket to provide tanker water supply in Thirupparankundram and that he would work with the same commitment in Madurai north.
This is a newly-formed constituency, carved out mostly from Madurai west. It has faced only two assembly polls – 2011 and 2016 – so far; and the AIADMK won on both the occasions. But AIADMK functionaries and cadres are disappointed too. Former MLA V R Rajangam and former mayor M S Pandian were lobbying for the seat after it became clear that sitting MLA V V Rajan Chellappa would shift to Thirupparankundram seat. AIADMK cadres are working for Saravanan, but they feel uneasiness over campaigning for a candidate who was in the DMK till a week ago.
DMK candidate G Thalapathi, though an outsider, from Thiruparankundram, is a known face in the area. He had lost to Sellur K Raju twice from Madurai west. He is promising a drinking water scheme for the region.
The constituency has a mix of upmarket residential colonies like K K Nagar and Anna Nagar and some rural areas, newly annexed to the corporation. Civic issues are the major concern of the people in the newly annexed areas, for, they feel they were better off in panchayats. Minorities like Christians and Muslims constitute about 25% of the population.