For G Kannan, who owns a tea shop, and L Magesh who works at a clothes store along the West Masi Street in Madurai, the reason to vote for the DMK is simple – change.
“This is like watching a film that is dragging too much and the hero isn’t even there anymore,” Magesh said. “After Amma (Jayalalithaa’s death), there are no heroes in AIADMK. Only villains. They have diluted the ideals of the party by joining with the BJP.”
The anti-BJP sentiment is strong among certain sections as they feel that BJP has not done much for Tamil Nadu––a sentiment particularly strong among the minorities. The DMK commands a major portion of the minority votebank.
Mohammed Ashrath, who runs a spare parts shop, says: “We have always voted for DMK. Almost everyone living in my area also has voted for the DMK. This time will be no different. Now that the AIADMK has tied up with the BJP, it has become yet another factor not to vote for them as we are suspicious of the BJP.”
But, in his family of seven, two members may vote for Kamal Haasan, taken by the actor’s charisma and the fact that the party boasts of many “educated” people.
Ibrahim BN, who lives in the street adjacent Kazimar Street, said he will vote for the DMK as he has always liked the late M Karunanidhi.
However, the business community seems divided. T Ramamurthy, a door fittings seller, said he would vote for the AIADMK as the party is business-friendly.
“This government is extremely competent,” he said. “The way they have managed business and Covid-19 is commendable. The Central government has also worked for all businesses. If someone is a genuine business person, they will vote for AIADMK.” He said power cuts during the DMK’s regime hurt businesses and that there has been no such inconvenience ever since AIADMK has been in power.
The DMK’s candidate is considered to be a ‘clean candidate’, giving it the party added advantage.
“I would have voted for Modi because I believe there is no man like him,” said IB Jain, who runs a hardware shop. “The problem is that Modi speaks about no corruption. I know he is not corrupt, but he has signed up for an alliance where many are corrupt crooks! I’m voting for DMK this time because I know the candidate is good and it will benefit me that he will not expect bribes to do day-to-day business.”