Chennai: The AIADMK is battling hard to retain Saidapet, one of the worst affected places in the December floods in the city, in what appears to be a straight contest between the ruling party and the DMK.
Situated on the banks of Adyar river, nearly all the parts of Saidapet were flooded in December and people still remember the woes they faced during that time.
The DMK too is focusing its campaign on floods and its candidate and former Mayor M. Subramanian is promising to build flood protection walls along Adyar, besides setting up stormwater drains in the area.
DMK chief M. Karunanidhi contested here in 1967 and went on to become Chief Minister two years later after the demise of party founder C.N. Annadurai. The DMK leader was elected from here in 1971 and assumed the Chief Minister’s post for the second term.
The AIADMK has fielded C. Ponnaiyan, a senior leader and a minister in the MGR cabinet. But, he is an outsider here with no grass root support or first hand knowledge of the constituency’s problems. The seat has been allocated to CPI in the PWA-DMDK alliance and the party has fielded its district secretary Elumalai. Besides, the BJP has fielded V. Kalidass and the PMK has pitted Sahadevan.
The CPI’s campaign is picking up as the DMDK and MDMK have notable support in the area. But, the party is unlikely to challenge the Dravidian majors, who appear to be far ahead. Its candidate Elumalai has support among construction workers, government employees and auto rickshaw unions.
He said “The AIADMK and DMK are winning the seat for more than 50 years, but Saidapet lacks even the basic amenities like drinking water, drainage and other civic facilities. If I am elected, I will serve people and fight for their issues”.
DMK nominee Subramaniam said, “I walk on every street and there is a good response from people. We have promised that all commodities will be available on all the 30 days. When Ponnaiyan was the minister, government staff who protested for their demands were arrested and dismissed from service. They will vote against him. The DMK government built the Bazaar subway and bridges near Aaduthotti and Jones road to ease traffic congestion”.
The AIADMK is promising to solve the drinking water and garbage problems and asserting that the AIADMK would form the government at the state and Ponnaiyan could become a minister. When it becomes a minister’s constituency, the entire area will have a new look with modern facilities, they assure the people.
Saidapet is one of the seats won by the DMK in its second attempt in 1962, when Munu Aadhi emerged victorious. Since 1962, ‘Saidapet is DMK’s fort’ used to be the slogan as the party candidate won the seat consecutively till 1984, when the citadel fell after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and a sympathy wave for MGR who was seriously ill in 1984.