DMK leader and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi is set to win her first ever direct election from Thoothukudi constituency. As of 5.30pm on Thursday, Kanimozhi had polled 4.42 lakh votes, as against BJP’s state President Tamilisai Soundararajan, who received 1.68 votes. That’s a margin of 2.73 lakh votes.
There were a total of 9,83,997 votes polled in the constituency, and 69.03% of the electorate cast their ballot.
Thoothukudi was a high-profile battle between the two women leaders. For Kanimozhi, two-time Rajya Sabha MP and the daughter of the late former Chief Minister and former DMK President M Karunanidhi, this was her first direct election from Thoothukudi. Tamilisai, a doctor by profession, is the daughter of Congress leader Kumari Ananthan. This marks her four unsuccessful election- she had contested before in two Assembly elections and one Parliamentary election but was not successful in any of them.
One of the biggest poll issues in Thoothukudi was the protests against the Sterlite Copper plant in 2018, which turned violent last May with the police gunning down 13 civilians. The shootings witnessed during the 100th day of protest had further turned public sentiment against the ruling BJP in the Centre and the AIADMK in the state. Given this animosity, the DMK believed that the seat was a guaranteed win.
Just a day ahead of the Lok Sabha polls on April 18, Income Tax sleuths searched the residence of the DMK candidate Kanimozhi, but left empty-handed after reports of unaccounted money being stashed there proved to be false. These came after the Election Commission announced that the Lok Sabha Election in Vellore was being cancelled.
Both Tamilisai and Kanimozhi had focused on development issues in their campaign.
Kanimozhi had been grooming the constituency for the past four years, even spending a small sum of her MPLAD funds development work in Thoothukudi district. She told TNM during the campaign, “It is an area with a lot of potential but unfortunately there have not been enough industries here. A lot of agricultural industries can be brought here which hasn’t been done. The basic infrastructure facilities are there - like, the airport can be expanded, the port can be expanded. A lot of employment opportunities are possible in Thoothukudi.”