September 30th, 2011
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Crutial test for DMK strongman

DMKChennai: The by-election to Tiruchy West constituency will be an acid test for former minister KN Nehru, who is undoubtedly the popular face of the DMK in the district for more than a decade. He is the first of the DMK’s regional satraps who has got an opportunity to prove his support among the people and make a comeback.

With several land grab charges against him, a win, even by the thinnest of margins, will be interpreted as a verdict from people’s court against the cases against him. Even if Nehru loses the election by a narrow margin, it will re-establish him as the strongest political leader in the district, a position he was enjoying for more than a decade. This will put the DMK on a recovery path at least in the Rock City. However, a defeat by a huge margin, will be a set back for his political career, and will be a vindication of the charges against him by the people. A big defeat will raise question marks about his popularity and he will have to struggle to continue as the unchallenged district leader of the party till the next Assembly or Parliament elections.

Nehru’s meteoric rise to the top of district politics, followed the quitting of former minister Selvaraj, who walked away with Vaiko and returned. He became a minister in 1996, but was defeated in Lalgudi by a narrow margin. Nehru became the transport minister in 2006 and rose to the level of one of the prominent leaders of the party at the State level. But, his defeat in the last Assembly elections and a series of land grab cases have cast a shadow over his political career. The by-poll will be an acid test as well as an opportunity for Nehru, seen as an efficient field marshall than as an orator or strategist. Unlike AIADMK candidate M Paranjothi, who has nothing to lose and everything to gain, this election will be a make or break for the DMK’s star candidate.


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