Thol Thirumavalavan braves heat, connects with people

Braving the hot sun, the former Chidambaram MP walks round every village and opens his heart and mind to the people, especially youth.
VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan meets the villagers on Saturday. (Photo: DC)
 VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan meets the villagers on Saturday. (Photo: DC)
KATTUMANNARKOIL: Bursting of crackers signal the arrival of VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan’s cavalcade into the village as young and the old gather on either side of the narrow road to welcome their leader in the backdrop of slogans hailing him and Dalit movement.
Thirumavalavan gets the same kind of ‘hero’s welcome’ in every village in this constituency with youth in large numbers rallying round the most prominent Dalit face in Tamil Nadu politics.
Braving the hot sun, the former Chidambaram MP walks round every village and opens his heart and mind to the people, especially youth. He does not attend any public meetings, but does door-to-door campaigning.
On Friday, Thirumavalavan’s day began in near-by Chidambaram, with a meeting with party cadres. A quick breakfast and the VCK leader comes out of his modest room and waves at his supporters and cadre of alliance parties. Then his modest convoy reaches Poorthangudi village.
“Please vote for ‘ring’ symbol. And also ensure people in your village vote for me. No vote should be wasted,” he tells villagers, as he gets out of his car to meet them with folded hands.
Clad in a formal brown shirt and black trouser, his campaign is quite simple. There are no posters, flags and festoons in the areas he visits, except for the flags carried by cadres.
Even as enthusiastic youth took Thirumavalavan all round the village, one can hear the whisper of women and elderly scolding youngsters for blocking a glimpse of the leader.
Knowing them well, he shakes hand with everyone, connecting with them with ease and enquiring their well being. His love for kids is very apparent as he stops seeing a child and starts interacting with it. This personal touch, his supporters say, is what differentiates him from other leaders.
When asked why they are so fond of Thirumavalavan, V. Rajavalli, (55) of Kaliayamalai, near Veeranam tank, said only after his arrival in politics, they (Dalits) were able to walk in the streets without fear of being beaten up by Caste Hindus.
“We used to face physical violence and all forms of discrimination. We will not be allowed to have tea in the cup meant for Caste Hindus and our men should not wear dhoti. Now everything has changed. This is all because of Thirumavalavan who gave us the courage to fight against injustice,” she explained.
After touring the dalit villages, he arrived at Lalpettai to campaign in the predominantly Muslim locality. He sought support of Muslims who came out of the mosque after  offering Friday  prayers. He was surrounded by his cadres even when he takes a break from campaign in the afternoon.
As he moved to a cadre’s house for lunch and took rest for a couple of hours, his cadres followed him. “They are very fond of me. They want to discuss some issue with me, so there is no time to take rest. I am used to it,” he said.
The VCK leader never hesitates to explain if somebody raises a question. A. Balamurguan of Periya Theru in Kattumannarkudi Town Panchayat complained that nobody is bothered about them.  “There is a limit on what an MLA can do. If you vote our alliance to power, we will be able to implement schemes to uplift
poor”, Thirumavalavan explains.

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