In the heart of the Western Ghats, 12 km away from the Kerala border is Molugumodu, a town panchayat with more than 5,000 voters.
Molugumodu is 12 km from the Kerala border. It's right in the heart of the Western Ghats. The road goes up or down, never straight. People living here must be having a lot of stamina. They are very friendly. When I asked a man for directions he took me on his bike to that place.
This is a town panchayat and thus has more than 5,000 voters. Most of the houses have Christian names. The church runs a community college where there are 200 students. One third of the students get free education. 66 students are tsunami affected from the coast 10 km from Kanyakumari.
The community college clerk said the Congress was going to win in his constituency as he was going to vote for it. He belongs to the Killiyoor constituency 6 km from Kanyakumari. Molugumodu is in the Padmanabhapuram constituency. Here the sitting legislator and present Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate is Rajendra Prasad. At least someone remembers our illustrious president.
Opposing him is a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate. The ADMK man will win with a little work, says the local drunkard.
The tea shop owner was more elaborate. "Here no one will kill each other for the elections. We are not excited by it. Vijaykanth passed this way in the morning. There was a very small crowd. All party vehicles pass here as we are on the main Nagercoil-Trivandrum road. No one stops here yet. They will stop here only in the last week. A lot of people vote here. That's our right. Here people earn a good living. Everyone has work. So no one is going to go after these politicians."
In Thuckalay 3 km away, one man was hoisting Vijaykanth's party flag. In Nagercoil which is the district headquarters there was a lot of activity in the Collectorate. Thursday was the penultimate day for filing nominations.
There was an interesting combination of flags in all the cars there. As both the ADMK and the DMK have a lot of allies, many flags deck each car. The dhotis the politicians wear also tell their affiliations.
If there is a red and green border it means Congress. A red and black border means the DMK. If there is a white line between the red and black it means ADMK. If there are two black lines with a red in between it means Vaiko's Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. If there is a yellow line in between a red and black line it means Vijaykanth's Desiya Dravida Murpokku Kalagam.
The Communist member of Parliament Bellarmin came with his two candidates to file their nomination.
In Nagercoil the sitting MLA belongs to the ADMK. This seat has been allotted by Amma to the MDMK. The upset sitting MLA has now filed his nomination as an independent. The MDMK candidate is a former DMK MLA from the villages. So the Nagercoil town people think he is an outsider. The Bharatiya Janata Party, Vijaykanth, Karthick (another actor) and the latest entrant Bahujan Samaj Party add colour to the numbers.
The BSP has filed nominations for five of the seven constituencies in Kanyakumari district. They admit they are not going to win, but were just testing the waters. According to them, Mayawati is the third most popular and powerful leader in the country. I did not have the guts to ask them who the first two were.
The auto driver was very talkative. "In this district people are hardworking and earn well. You know our construction workers cross over to Kerala when there is no work here. Nobody is idle. Who do you think goes for political meetings? All those who live in this town and cannot sleep before 12. They attend meetings of all parties to pass the time. Everyone has already decided who they are going to vote for. It has to be someone new. Maybe Vijaykanth or maybe the BJP, but new it must be."
Colachel is on the seacoast. The sitting ADMK MLA is contesting again. The people are not satisfied. Why? It seems the MLA did everything only for the fishermen here. So the non-fishermen are not happy with him. The DMK is upset as the seat has been allotted to the Congress and they cannot work without money which the Congress has not yet started spending.
The sweet seller declares, "The BJP district secretary is in our town. But he is such a miser that he is not shelling out one rupee. How the hell can anyone work?"
On the walls of Colachel one finds the name of Gandhi, Advani and Vajpayee together. Surprised! Well! The BJP candidate here is M R Gandhi.
The Tamil Nadu Muslim Munetra Kalagam has a union of auto drivers. They have a board on a beach road. Their secretary's name was given as Yasser Arafat.
In the north the Congress' hand symbol is painted white. Here it is painted white, yellow or green depending on the background. It is certainly going to be a colourful election.
What is the influence of Kerala on this district? Seems the two constituencies on the Kerala border always elect either a Communist or Congress candidate.
What is the influence of the United States on this district? There the presidential candidates engage in a public debate aired on national television. Here, there is a public debate between the ADMK and the DMK on April 24.
The ADMK will be represented by Health Minster Thalawai Sundaram who belongs to this district. The DMK will be represented by former tourism minister Suresh Rajan. Then they will have to take questions from the audience too. This will be telecast live on local cable TV networks.