Constituency Watch: Union Minister L. Murugan faces tough contest in TN's Nilgiris

Chennai, April 2 (IANS) Union Minister of State and senior BJP leader L. Murugan is engaged in a three-cornered contest against former Union Minister and DMK leader A. Raja and AIADMK leader D. Lokesh Thamizh Selvan in the Nilgiris Lok Sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu.

The AIADMK candidate is the son of Avanashi MLA and former Speaker of Tamil Nadu Assembly, P. Dhanpal.

A. Raja, who was an accused in the 2G spectrum scam, is the sitting MP from the constituency.

The AIADMK, an alliance partner of the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, has fielded D. Lokesh Thamizh Selvan from the seat.

Murugan, a former state BJP chief, has successfully organised several grassroots-level programmes across Tamil Nadu. A galaxy of senior national-level leaders is expected to reach the Nilgiris in the days to come for the election campaign of Murugan, which will give him a major fillip ahead of the polls.

In 2019, A. Raja defeated M. Thiyagarajan of the AIADMK by a margin of 2,05,823 votes.

The Nilgiris Lok Sabha constituency, which is an SC reserved seat, has six Assembly constituencies of which three fall under the reserved category while the rest are general seats.

The Bhavanisagar (SC) Assembly constituency is represented by AIADMK's A. Bannari, while the Udhagamandalam seat was won by R. Ganesh of the Congress, which is a constituent of the INDIA bloc also comprising the DMK.

The Gudalur (SC) seat has an AIADMK MLA -- Pon Jayaseelan -- while the Coonoor seat was won by DMK's K. Ramachandran.

The Mettupalayam and Avanashi (SC) Assembly seats are represented by A.K. Selvaraj and P. Dhanapal of the AIADMK, respectively.

Like the 2019 general elections, the AIADMK was in an alliance with the BJP for the 2021 Assembly elections as well. Though Raja won the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by a margin of 2,05,823 votes, the 2021 Assembly election results gave an advantage to the NDA of which the AIADMK was a part.

Raja told IANS, "The DMK government under M.K. Stalin has launched several welfare projects for the people of Tamil Nadu. I have a grassroots-level connection with the constituency as the sitting MP. I have full confidence in the electorate and expect a resounding victory.”

However, political observers feel that while Raja won the seat in 2009 and 2019, he lost the polls in 2014, so the constituency cannot be considered a safe bet for the former Union Minister.

P.M. Ravichandran, a political analyst based out of Coimbatore, told IANS, “The Nilgiris constituency cannot be considered a fiefdom of A. Raja. The 2014 election results were shocking for Raja, and presently four Assembly constituencies in the Nilgiris are with the AIADMK, which was then in alliance with the BJP. I think that it will be a tough three-cornered fight this time.”

AIADMK candidate Thamizh Selvan comes from a well-connected political family. His father P. Dhanpal is the sitting MLA from the Avanashi Assembly constituency, who's also a former Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Assembly.




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