There is frenzy in the run-up to the Thirumangalam bye-elections in Tamil Nadu on January 9. Amidst hectic campaigning, many political heavyweights are touring the constituency.
For the people of this assembly seat in south Madurai, the poll process is more a 'buy election' than a bye-election. Nobody here talks on issues like price rise, power cuts and shabby roads. The only topic of discussion is 'who is giving how much money and when?'
One voter admits to rediff.com that he received Rs 3000 for his vote. He expects more money to come his way, as there is still a week to go before the votes are cast.
Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam won this seat in the 2006 elections. A bye-election was necessitated by the death of its MLA Veera Elavarasan. However, this time, not even a single MDMK flag is to be seen anywhere. Apparently, locals say, MDMK general secretary Vaiko's traditional supporters in the seat -- the Naykeers (Naidu) - have shifted their support to actor Vijaykant's Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam.
Text and Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar
Image: A man dressed up like former chief minister M G Ramachandran canvasses for votes for ADMK.
Also see: 'There is no sympathy for the LTTE in Tamil Nadu'