Literature and politics have always gone hand-in-hand in Tamil Nadu. There are many writers-turned-politicians who contested this Lok Sabha election. D Ravikumar of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), K Kanimozhi and Thamizhachi Thangapandian of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Jothimani of the Congress and Su Venkatesan of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) are the literateurs who contested in this election.
It is interesting to note that this is the first time that such a long line-up of writers in the state contested in the Lok Sabha polls. Earlier, Ravikumar and Jothimani contested in the Assembly elections and the former was an MLA from 2006-2011. For Jothimani, this is the second Lok Sabha election.
But this is the debut election for Kanimozhi, Thamizhachi Thangapandian and Su Venkatesan. While Kanimozhi and Su Venkatesan are not new players in the political terrain, it is an altogether new ground for Thamizhachi Thangapandian.
Till noon all these writers were leading in their respective constituencies. While Ravikumar was leading in Villupuram, Kanimozhi was leading in Thoothukudi, where she adopted a village under PM’s ‘Sansad Village Adoption Scheme’ during her tenure as Rajya Sabha MP. Jothimani and Su Venkatesan were leading in Karur and Madurai respectively — their respective hometown constituencies. Thamizhachi Thangapandian was leading in Chennai South.
For Ravikumar, there is another reason to celebrate. In May, he published two new books in Tamil, titled Rajinikanthum Pudhumaippithanum and Meelum Varalaru: Ariyappadaatha Nandanin Kathai, both non-fictions. His other work titled, Thenga Nadhi, a collection of interviews he conducted with personalities from various fields, is set to release in June. An erudite writer, he runs a book publication company called Manarkeni.
Kanimozhi, being a well-known feminist poet, has written many poetry anthologies. Her first book of poems, Karuvarai Vasanai, brought a new wave in Tamil literary world. Her poet friend and now a party colleague, Thamizhachi Thangapandian, whose maiden name is Sumathi, started to pen the poems when her father and former minister Thangapandian died. Her first collection of poems titled, Enjottu penn, mostly speaks about her relationship with her father.
Jothimani’s first book is a product of her political experiences. Titled Neer Pirakkum Mun, it details her struggle as a panchayat councillor who fought for water pipelines in a dalit colony. She has two fiction books to her credit. When it comes to literary works, she writes under the pen name Indira, supposedly inspired by former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Su Venkatesan, a writer who took information about Keezhadi to the masses, is a winner of Sahitya Akademi Award. He won the award for his debut novel Kaval Kottam in 2011. He is a general secretary of Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers Association, a cultural wing of CPI(M).
Of these candidates, Ravikumar and Thamizhachi Thangapandian are doctorates. While Ravikumar did his PhD in Tamil, Thamizhachi did her thesis on diaspora literature. Jothimani did an MPhil in Tamil.