Thirunavukkarasu, Sabarirajan, Vasanthakumar and Satish - the four youths who were arrested in connection with the sexual assault of young girls in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Chennai, April 2 : Tamil Nadu's opposition DMK says it is not slow-pedalling the Pollachi sexual abuse-cum-blackmail case after its initial aggression against the ruling AIADMK, but there are mixed views about the issue's impact on voters in the April 18 Lok Sabha and assembly by-elections.

The DMK says it will keep up raising the issue and believes it will hit the ruling party.

"Our party President M.K. Stalin is talking about the issue in his campaign meetings. The issue will have a negative impact on the AIADMK. We are certainly not going slow or silent on the issue," DMK leader T.K.S. Elangovan told IANS.

S.Valentina, the state President of All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), agreed.

"The issue raises emotions in the minds of people across the state and is just not restricted to the people living in Pollachi town. This will reflect in the voting trends," Valentina told IANS.

She said about 200 women have been affected and it will have its echo in the elections.

Four persons -- Thirunavukkarasu, Sathish, Sabarirajan and Vasanthakumar -- all in their 20s, have been accused of sexually assaulting women in Pollachi and filming the act to blackmail them for money or for physical submission for over seven years.

An auto-rickshaw driver in Coimbatore told IANS that this would have a negative effect on the AIADMK alliance candidates in the city as "it is clearly known that members of ruling party in the state are involved in the case".

However, there were also many who felt that that the case would affect their - or others - voting choice.

Public sector employee R. Shanthi said: "My voting decision will not be influenced by the Pollachi issue. I feel the issue has been politicised", while Chennai cab driver Velu said: "I will not cast my vote on this one issue. The probe is on. Such incidents are happening across the country and not just in Pollachi."
Similarly businesswoman S.V. Amirtha told IANS: "The culprits are to be punished, there is no question about that. The opposition parties tried to gain political mileage out of this. But it seems the opposition is losing steam now."
Even my maid holds a similar view, she added.

In response, Valentina said: "This is election time. The Pollachi sexual abuse issue will be spoken along with other issues affecting the states. That does not mean the issue has lost its relevance."
Elangovan held the sentiment is in favour of DMK candidates in the Lok Sabha and in the assembly by-elections for 18 constituencies.

On the other hand, AIAMDK spokesperson Avadi Kumar is of the view that the DMK is going silent on the Pollachi sexual abuse case owing to the subsequent developments, including questioning a state Congress leader and summoning the son of a DMK official in Pollachi.

Noting the DMK tried to blame Deputy Speaker Pollachi Jayaraman's son, he said that it was the girl whose complaint brought the issue into public notice had said that it was Jayaraman who had helped her to lodge the police complaint.

"People are seeing this and there will not be any negative impact on AIADMK or its allies due to the episode," he said.

However, as soon as the scandal emerged, common people in Pollachi expressed their anger and said this would reflect in the elections.

During a recent visit, IANS sensed silent anger simmering in the town since surfacing of the murky details of the case that tarnished the town's reputation. What has shocked the residents most is that the key accused turned out to be the boys next door.

Although the residents whom IANS spoke to declined to go on record, they did express their anger at the sordid episode. Many felt violated, too and they will show their anger on the polling day.

Former AIADMK MP K.C. Palanisamy had told IANS that the case would not only impact in the Pollachi Lok Sabha constituency but also in the neighbouring seats like Coimbatore, Erode, Nilgiris and Tiruppur.

According to him, the people of the area believe in self-respect and "will not go easy on this sordid episode in the polls".

On the other hand, AIADMK's Kumar said his party's electoral alliances have brought the vote share arithmetic in their favour.

Concurring with Kumar was writer and political commentator Maalan Narayanan, who said the AIADMK's alliances have helped it while the Pollachi episode is slowing fading away.

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