Friday, April 14, 2006  01:28 IST

CHENNAI: Muthulakshmi Veerappan has kept her word. The slain forest brigand’s wife will be contesting the Tamil Nadu assembly polls on May 8 as an independent candidate from Pennagaram constituency in Dharmapuri district.
She promises to get justice for tribals and other villagers "tortured by the Special Task Force (STF)" during the hunt for Veerappan.
The 35-year-old’s chances have brightened after several members of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a constituent of Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA), quit after the party gave the seat to Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in a last minute barter deal.
But support of the PMK dissidents in the Vanniyar-dominated constituency — Muthulakshmi belongs to the community — will not alone be sufficient for her to come up trumps in Pennagaram, where the DMK and the AIADMK are in a direct fight.
"My husband might have committed many crimes, but he worked for the welfare of tribals and the Tamil society till his last breath. I understand how much you have suffered at the hands of the STF since I am a living victim of STF atrocities. I will raise this in the hall of the assembly and deliver you justice," she promised  the voters.
Her campaign, however, is not all about the Veerappan saga. With the help of her newfound friends — PMK panchayat union president CV Madhu, vice president Thavamalai and councillor Sakthivel — Muthulakshmi has even come out with a manifesto.
Solving the Hogenakkal dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the latter’s favour, implementation of the Hogenakkal comprehensive water project and construction of a dam form part of her manifesto.