TIRUCHY: A pulsating spectacle is on the cards in the prestigious Tiruchirappalli Lok Sabha constituency at the heart of Cauvery delta in central Tamil Nadu for the April 18 parliament elections as major political parties have fielded popular faces in the fray.
This Lok Sabha seat comprises the Assembly segments of Tiruchy East, Tiruchy West, Tiruverumbur, Srirangam, Pudukkottai, and Gandarvakottai. It has a total electorate of 14,89,267 including 7,56,459 female voters. There are 24 candidates are in the fray.
Roly-poly former Union minister S Thirunavukkarasar, whose political journey began with AIADMK, floated his own MGR-ADMK, then a dash of an innings with BJP and now an important Congress leader in the State and belonging to the dominant ‘Mukkulothor’community, is pitted as part of the DMK-led alliance against an equally prominent personality, Ms Sarubala Thondaiman, a scion of the Pudukkottai royal family and former Tiruchy mayor who also happens to be from the same community. The suave, articulate Sarubala is now fighting on behalf of TTV Dhinakaran-headed AMMK.
Actor Vijayakant-led DMDK has nominated Dr V Elangovan, who fully banks on the AIADMK, while V Anantharaja, of Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiyam (MNM) is perhaps the only low-profile candidate in this contest.
Thirunavukkarasar, till recently president of TNCC until K S Alagiri took over, was reportedly assured by Congress president Rahul Gandhi of a Lok Sabha ticket which materialised here, and the DMK president M K Stalin put his heart and soul when he campaigned on Saturday to ensure that the Congress candidate had a good lead. The local DMK unit headed by K N Nehru is also coordinating the campaign well for him, a big plus for Thirunavukkarasar, said a DMK functionary.
A seven-time MLA from Aranthangi and a former MP, Thirunavukkarasar’s poll plank has been mainly about finding ways to fulfill the long pending demands of Tiruchy industrial hub, including revival of the BHEL ancillary units, an integrated bus terminus for Tiruchy, road infrastructure projects like Tiruchy ring road and so on. Being a Pudukkottai district man, he hopes to garner votes from two Assembly segments there- Pudukkottai and Gandarvakottai.
On the other hand, Ms Sarubala is leaving no stone unturned as she also has her roots in Pudukkottai district and the contest seems neck-and-neck for these two in garnering votes from those two Assembly segments in the neighbouring district. She is contesting for the Lok Sabha for the third time now.
Already a popular mayor of Tiruchirappalli, Sarubala has been emphasizing in her campaign on her achievements for the city like getting railway land for expanding the Tiruchy central bus stand, her administrative abilities in the civic body, even as she assures her electorate on early completion of all pending projects for Tiruchy.
The AIADMK was in a dilemma that it finally decided to part with the Tiruchy Lok Sabha seat to its ally, the DMDK. The sitting MP, P. Kumar was reportedly not keen to re-contest, which helped the DMDK to allot this seat to Dr V Elangovan, a Dharmapuri man. Though Chief Minister, Edappadi K Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister, O. Pannerselvam and other senior AIADMK ministers have been intensely campaigning for their alliance candidate here, it looks an uphill task for Dr Elangovan at the ground level. Ms. Premalatha Vijayakanth campaigned here recently, but with very little effect.
The redrawing of this constituency’s boundaries during the delimitation process has been a sore point with the locals, that consumer bodies’leaders like M Sekaran have been pressing the candidates to ensure that the original territories of Tiruchy, Pudukkottai and Perambalur Lok Sabha constituencies be restored.
People here are also disappointed that Tiruchy did not get the AIIMS-like hospital.
Pon Gunaseelan, state coordinator of the Federation of social service organizations of Tiruchy, urged that the Gandhi Market to be shifted to suburbs Kallikudi, as planned to ease the traffic congestion in that area. Water and agriculture issues of Tiruchy are also being sadly neglected, complained Sangenthi Thiyagarajan, of TMC farmers’wing.
Despite all these issues, the battle for Tiruchy seems largely to be a direct fight between S. Thirunarukkarasar of the Congress and Ms Sarubala Thondaiman of the AMMK, a tough contest between two equally placed candidates....