S Abdul Azeem, a social activist of Thuckalay and member of ‘Thiruvarut Peravai -  a forum for religious harmony headed by the District Collector -  said, "It is sad but true that in the past 25 years people have been polarised on religious lines and minorities have voted en bloc to scuttle BJP's victory."

Kanyakumari-based noted Hindutva writer Aravindan Neelakandan, however, disagrees.

“The BJP has always had an undercurrent of support cutting across party and religious lines. Whenever there is no dividing communal forces, the BJP has won. However, if communal passions are aroused the party may find the going tough," he says.

The argument, however, does not cut ice with Suresh Swamiyar Kaani of 'Koovai Kadu Malai', a well-known tribal leader and representative of Kanyakumari District Minorities Federation.

"The BJP is not at all a choice for the minorities. A candidate who would ensure the welfare and rights of Christians and Muslims should win," says Kaani, who was the first person in his community to earn a doctorate degree.

This time around, the contest could be more tough as S P Udayakumar, who spearheaded the anti-nuclear movement against Kudankulam project and enjoys "considerable influence" in coastline villages among fishermen, is in the fray as an Aam Aadmi party candidate, Azeem says.

Interestingly, the candidates of AIADMK, DMK, CPI (M) and AAP are all catholic Christians.

Muslims in the constituency appear to be weighing their options carefully.

Janab A Tamilmahan Hussain, Chairman, Tamil Nadu Wakf Board, is a respected Islamic elder here and enjoys good rapport with Jamats, Azeem says. Also, the Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath  supports AIADMK.

(Agencies)

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