In every Assembly election, contestants belonging to popular political parties alone are considered as serious contenders, rarely are the independents so seen. This time, the Karaikal district of the Union Territory of Puducherry is witnessing the independent candidates giving a tough fight to the parties.
Assembly constituencies in the Puducherry regions are small with about 25,000-35,000 voters. The popularity of individual candidates in the area often becomes the deciding factor in winning elections. On many occasions and in many constituencies, Independents have risen up to expectations and won the elections.
This time, three constituencies in Karaikal district — Tirunallar, Nedunkadu, and Neravy-TR Pattinam constituencies are seeing independents as among the top contenders.In Tirunallar, former Minister and two-time MLA PR Siva is contesting as an independent. He was earlier with the AINRC.
The constituency has now been allotted to the BJP. He is taking on Congress's R Kamalakannan, who served as Agriculture Minister in the Narayanaswamy-headed cabinet. BJP has fielded GNS Rajasekaran.
In the nearby Nedunkaduconstituency, Dr V Vigneswaran, a prominent social activist in the area, is contesting as an independent.
He was previously with the DMK. He is taking on AINRC's Chandrapriyanka (sitting MLA) and Congress's A Marimuthu, former MLA. In the Neravy TR-Pattinam constituency, two independent candidates are among the main contenders. Sitting MLA Geetha Anandan, who was with the DMK, is contesting as an independent as she was denied a ticket this time.
VMCS Rajaganapathy, son of former Minister VMC Sivakumar, is also in the fray as an independent. They both are taking on DMK's Nagathiyagarajan and BJP's VMCS Manoharan.
Interestingly, the BJP candidate and the independent VMCS Rajaganapathy are brothers. If any of the independents go on to win the elections, they might play a crucial role in the formation of the next government in the Union Territory.