The multi-crore 2G scam seems to be a non-issue for the electorate in Nilgiri (SC) Lok Sabha constituency, where the scam tainted former Telecom Minister DMK's A Raja is bidding for a second term.
While the ruling AIADMK and BJP have been making the 2G scam against Raja their main poll plank in this hill station that attracts tourists throughout the year, the DMK leader and the party's Dalit face is interestingly using it to his own advantage in the April 24 polls.
Raja, on a gruelling campaign across the six Assembly segments of the constituency, which has a sizeable number of expatriate Tamils, narrates to voters that he has been made a victim for his efforts to revolutionise the telecom sector by ensuring that the benefits of communication are enjoyed even by the poor.
Raja had spent over 15 months in Tihar Jail following his arrest in the scam, that even put DMK chief M Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi behind bars.
Making an emotional appeal to the electorate, he says, "I am optimistic that the judgement in the court of law will be in my favour. Before that I want a verdict from the people." A PTI correspondent, who toured parts of the constituency, found locals were disinterested in discussing 2G. Their primary concern was issues that affect them like drinking water and space congestion in the hill area, among others.
People insist that whoever is elected should focus on projects to generate more employment and bring in some industry.
"I want to put up a question before the people's court (and tell them) that what happened in 2G, I launched a revolution. It is known in history that a person who has launched a revolution is often termed a criminal. So I want to have a judgement from the people first," Raja told PTI amidst his hectic poll schedule.
The 50-year-old leader, during his electioneering, does not make promises and seeks mandate for his performance as their elected MP and promises to do better if re-elected.
However, the AIADMK has been pulling out all stops to derail the dream of Raja for a second term and has fielded C Gopalakrishnan, Chairman of Coonoor Municipality.
Gopalakrishan is banking on the achievements of the three-year-old Jayalalithaa government and also on support of the party MLAs of three Assembly segments which are part of Nilgiris constituency, according to his poll managers.
Avinashi, Mettupalayam and Udhagamandalam Assembly segments are held by AIADMK MLAs.
Congress has nominated P Gandhi, a native of the distant Namakkal district, and perceived to be a supporter of former MP and senior leader R Prabu who had earlier represented this Lok Sabha segment five times between 1980 and 2004.
Gandhi says his priorities are for striving for fixing of minimum support price for tea at around Rs 25/kg, and taking steps for decongestion of the hill areas in particular besides introducing air ambulance.
However, he did not commit whether he would rake up the 2G scam against his opponent Raja, as his party, the Congress was not an ally of DMK in this election.
BJP candidate C Gurumurthy's papers were rejected for delayed submission of the mandatory Form 2B, thus reducing the party's number of candidates to six and dashing its hopes of aiming to sail through in the 'Modi wave.
Though the constituency presents a multi-cornered contest following the presence of AAP and others, it will certainly be a battle of the ballot between DMK's Raja and AIADMK's Gopalakrishnan.
The constituency has an electorate strength of 12.41 lakh.