By G B Vanamali Karur, Tamil Nadu, Apr 9 UNI | 4 months ago

Sitting member M Thambidurai of AIADMK faces a stiff challenge from friend-turned-foe and DMK nominee M Chinnasamy and his niece P Jothimani (Congress) in the Karur Lok Sabha constituency in the April 24 polls.

Located along the course of the Cauvery and Amaravathi rivers that provides good prospects for farming activities the constituency has more than 500 textile manufacturing and exporting firms and dyeing units that garner copious foreign exchange earnings and offer jobs to more than 2.5 lakh people.

However, with scanty rainfall and non-availability of ground water affecting farming sector, cultivators accuse the elected representatives of doing nothing to redress their grievances in the constituency.

The main issues that confronts the candidates were the unavailability of water for agricultural and drinking purposes, the closure of the dyeing units, rendering lakhs of employees jobless, due to non-compliance of the Pollution Control Board norms on setting up of Zero Discharge Effluent Plants and unemployment.

In fact, Mr Thambidurai, who had won thrice from Karur in 1989, 1998 and 2009 LS polls, had a turbulent start to his campaign when he was gheraoed by women in the Aravakurichi village for not solving the water problems. However, State Transport Minister Senthil Balaji, who has been entrusted with the task of the campaigning and who has good name among the voters, pacified them.

The voters' main grouse, especially among the women, was that Mr Thambidurai hardly visited them to hear their problems.

However, Mr Thambidurai, seeking a fourth term, was banking on the charisma of AIADMK Supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and the various populist and welfare schemes launched by the ruling AIADMK in the state. The freebies like free mixies, grinders and TV sets, launched by the AIADMK government were also likely to boost his chances.

The DMK's Chinnasamy is a former Minister and two time MLA in 1980 and 1981. He was elected to Parliament in 1991. He had quit the AIADMK prior to the 2011 Assembly polls and joined the DMK, on whose 'Rising Sun' symbol he was contesting for the first time.

He dismissed any threat from his niece (Jothimani) and Mr Thambidurai. ''My close rapport with the people in the constituency will tilt the scales in my favour,'' he said.

''With Mr Thambidurai's involvement with the people not that good in the last five years, this factor too would benefit me,'' Mr Chinnaswamy said. He has promised the voters that he would take steps to revive the dyeing units.

But what was bothering him most than his rivals in the fray, was that he was still seen as an AIADMK nominee by illiterates and there was a possibility that they would vote for the 'Two leaves' symbol.

''Yes, it is true'', Chinnasamy told UNI. ''The illiterates constitute about three to five per cent. They still have in their mind that my symbol is two leaves'', he said. Mr Chinnasamy said he would also distribute pamphlets among voters in this regard. asking them to vote for him in the 'Rising Sun' symbol of the DMK.

But the agenda of 38-year-old Jothimani's campaign is different as she would be targetting the youth and the womenfolk, who marginally outnumber men.

Perhaps for the first time, she would be releasing a separate assembly segmentwise manifesto. She also plans to use social media like facebook and twitter extensively.

''The rights-based campaign is basically an attempt to educate women and farmers on their rights in availing various Centrally-sponsored schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to get their due wages, besides training Panchayats presidents to ensure that the funds allotted for the schemes reached the real beneficiaries,'' she added.

She said she would also launch the ''Know Your Candidate (KYC) campaign'' to get a feedback about what people expected from her and to remove any ill-will about the Congress party, which has been targeted by the AIADMK and DMK. ''During the KYC campaign, I will be open to answer any sort of questions to be posed by the voters. Instead of making promises, I want the voters to tell what they want and what they expect from me'', she added.

Apart from Ms Jothimani, the presence of N S Krishnan of DMDK and R Valayapathy of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), was unlikely to alter the nature of the main contest.

Spread over three districts--Trichy, Pudukottai and Dindugul--the constituency has six assembly segments--Karur, Aravakurichi, Krishnarayapuram (R), Vedasandur, Manaparai and Viralimalai with a total electorate of 12,78,348, including 6,46,132 women.

In the previous 14 Lok Sabha polls, Karur was once upon a time a Congress bastion, returning its candidates six times in 1957, 1962, 1971, 1977, 1980 and 1984 before the two Dravidian majors AIADMK and the DMK broke the National Party's domination since the 1989 elections.

With dyeing units, textile industry and agriculture forming the backbone of this district's economy, AIADMK had won the seats five times in 1989, 1991, 1998, 1999 and 2009, while the candidates of Swatantra Party, Tamil Maanila Congress (Moopanar) and DMK were elected in 1967, 1996 and 2006 respectively.

(Posted on 09-04-2014)