The direct contest between NDA and the DMK in the Vellore Lok Sabha election has started on a shaky note. Though the actual campaigning is yet to start by both sides, the voters are already irked by the model code of conduct which resulted in all non-poll related official work to come to a standstill for the second time in 4 months.
Not only that, district office-bearers were peeved that a meeting of party men was called for by those close to NDA candidate Shanmugam without their being invited. “Only after some annoyed leaders fired broadsides did ACS directly intervene and apologise for the gaffe,” said a district leader who preferred anonymity.
“Shanmugam will begin campaigning from Wednesday when district minister KC Veeramani – after attending to the demand of grants for the Commercial Taxes ministry in the state Assembly – arrives,” said AIADMK district treasurer M Moorthy. Cadre are waiting to see what strategy the Minister will adopt to win following his losing the Ambur and Gudiyattam by-elections to the DMK. Party worker SK Narasimhan of Ambur said, “if AIADMK loses, then Veeramani will be in trouble as rivals will be out for his scalp.”
Meanwhile, the AMMK announced that it will not participate in the electoral process. However, local residents wonder at the reason for countermanding of the earlier poll when the same candidate has been announced by the DMK this time around. It may be recalled that Deepa Lakshmi of the Naam Tamilar Katchi – who is contesting again - had suggested going ahead with the polls after changing the DMK candidate.
Meanwhile, officials were nonplussed when both the Thanthai Periyar Engineering College in Vellore and a private college in Vaniyambadi expressed inability to hand over their institutions for counting of votes as classes were about to start and students could not be informed as the process was online. Hence, officials were mulling using a private engineering college in Ranipet which falls in the Arakonam LS constituency.