Erode: The Erode parliamentary constituency- whose Assembly segments are split between Erode, Tirupur and Namakkal districts administratively- is poised for basically a triangular contest between AIADMK, MDMK as part of the DMK-Congress front and the AMMK led by TTV Dhinakaran.
At the heart of the OBC Goundars belt in western Tamil Nadu, all the three key contesting parties are vying for their share of the community votes in the April 18 Lok Sabha polls, with each of them having fielded a 'Goundar' candidate.
While the Assembly segments- that make this sprawling parliamentary seat extending on both sides of the Cauvery river- Modakuruchi, Erode West and Erode East are in Erode district itself, Kangeyam and Darapuram fall under Tirupur districts and Kumarapalyam comes within Namakkal district. The total electorate for this election 14,27,531, women outnumber the male voters at 7,27,411 and 7,00,013 votes respectively.
The ruling AIADMK has fielded Venku G. Manimaran from Kangayam to contest this seat, a relatively low profile candidate - he is the secretary of the AIADMK's Kangayam town unit - even as his brother is the town secretary of DMK unit there. This is a fair indication of the hold Dravidian majors still have in the state. But Manimaran not known much outside Kangayam, there is dissatisfaction among the AIADMK cadres on the choice of the candidate, say observers. It is not yet clear whether AIADMK will benefit here from its allies, BJP, PMK or DMDK, in Erode constituency, they underscore.
The MDMK has re-nominated one of the veterans of the Dravidian movement, A Ganeshamurthy, two times MP and a former MLA of the DMK from Modakuruchi. He was twice elected to Lok Sabha, once from Palani in 1998 and again in 2009 from Erode, on both occasions when MDMK was part of an AIADMK-led front headed by J. Jayalalithaa. Ganeshamurthy, though, lost the 2014 LS polls from Erode as part of the BJP-led NDA, but this time MDMK is part of DMK-front.
Interestingly, the Dhinakaran-headed AMMK has also fielded its town secretary from Kangayam, K.C Senthilkumar, a new face for the Erode parliamentary seat this time. Despite his new comer tag, political observers here say that Dhinakaran has a considerable following in Erode district, with Muslims in this constituency also gravitating towards the AMMK in the run-up to the April 18 elections. This could see Senthilkumar pick up “substantial votes” from outside the Goundar community also, observers underscore. Actor-turned politician Kamal Haasan's MNM has put up Saravana Kumar.
However, as the campaign mood felt today, it is the DMK-backed MDMK candidate Ganeshamurthy who is seen as having an edge over his AIADMK and AMMK rivals. Ganeshamurthy had a symbol issue, but with MDMK deciding to contest on DMK's 'rising sun' symbol, it is a big plus and the latest development has further lightened the load on the MDMK veteran, observers point out.
Ganeshamurthy is not only the best known face among all the four contestants, but also has taken up issues on behalf of the constituency where a large number of power-looms are concentrated, besides agriculture. Ganeshamurthy has taken up the cause of farmers as an MP, easily approachable and is known to be a hard worker in taking up people's issues, they drew attention to.
The battle for Erode looks essentially a fight for the 'Goundar community votes', and poll dynamics could change as the election date approaches. All the candidates have earnestly begun their respective campaigns, but it looks 'advantage Ganeshamurthy' for now, they added.
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