Sivaganga all set for a nail biting poll finish
By V Gangadharan
Sivaganga (TN), Apr 15 (PTI) All eyes will be on
Sivaganga in southern Tamil Nadu where Congress nominee Karti
Chidambaram will battle it out in a triangular contest in the
Lok Sabha seat held by his father P Chidambaram seven times
since 1984.
A nail biting finish is in the offing in view of the
tough contest among Karti, BJP national secretary H Raja and
the candidate of TTV Dhinakaran's Amma Makkal Munnetra
Kazhagam (AMMK).
Mukkulathor and Mutharaiyar, a backward caste community,
Nagarathar and the Scheduled Castes make up the main caste
Apart from them, Muslims and Christians are also among
the electorate spread across the vast constituency falling
under Sivaganga and Pudukottai districts.
A visit to a number of villages in the constituency
revealed that a section of Mukkulathor, the traditional
supporters of the AIADMK was oscillating in its choice between
the ruling AIADMK's ally BJP and rival AMMK.
AIADMK top leader O Panneerselvam, AMMK leader Dhinakaran
and his party candidate Therpogi V Pandi belong to the
Mukkulathor community.
Also, with several AIADMK cadres at the local level now
siding with AMMK, it has virtually widened the scope for a
split in the anti-DMK and anti-Congress votes.
Both the Congress and BJP bank on their Dravidian allies'
organisational strength to win the seat. DMK and AIADMK has
alliance with Congress and BJP respectively.
Requesting anonymity, some Congress workers rued that
the Sivaganga Lok Sabha ticket has been repeatedly going to
one family for about 30 years, a reference to the hold of
Chidambaram on the seat from 1984.
The 47-year old Karti, who is facing corruption cases,
is currently on bail. He has been maintaining that the cases
were politically motivated.
On the other hand, Raja is perceived as accessible and
well known.
A local, whose view of supported by many, in Karaikudi
said: "Raja is accecssible, well known, but infamous for
courting controversies."
AMMK has aligned with the Social Democratic Party of
India and hopes that it would give an edge in getting Muslim
votes in the April 18 elections.
While Karti's main poll plank is voting out Prime
Minister Narendra Modi, Raja is wooing the voters saying P
Chidambaram had not addressed issues facing the constituency
despite being a union minister for a long period during the
Congress regimes.
The only issue for the people in the polls was about
dislodging Modi from power, Karti told PTI.
Raja slammed P Chidambaram for "not addressing," the
issues of industries, including closure of textile mills in
Sivaganga, when he was a minister. He said such issues
mattered a lot for the people.
AMMK's Pandi alleged P Chidambaram faced widespread
resentment among the people and Raja was a "divisive"
personality and both parties cannot nurse hopes for a win.
In the 2014 elections, Karti, on his maiden electoral
foray, was comprehensively defeated here while the AIADMK had
wrested the seat. The AIADMK, DMK, Congress and the BJP had
then contested the elections with smaller allies.
For the electorate, which is spread out in the Assembly
segments of Sivaganga, Thirumayam, Alangudi, Karaikudi,
Tiruppattur, and Manamadurai (Reserved), lack of jobs at the
local level tops the list among the polls issues.
Sitting under tree shade on the fringes of the sleepy
Vengavayal hamlet, village elder and a retired rice mill
worker Seena Karuppasamy complained rice mills do not employ
local people anymore.
"Labourers are brought from Bihar and Jharkhand for
comparatively paltry wages. They work and live within the mill
compounds," he told PTI.
Other kinds of sources of employment, including farm
related tasks, were neither regular, nor remunerative, he
The number of rice mills too dwindled over the years, he
said and rued that several men have to travel far away for
On steps for job creation during his father's tenure
both as a Minister and an MP, Karti cited initiatives,
including setting up a BHEL facility at Thirumayam.
Besides, he also listed out several other development and
welfare projects undertaken by his father.
Power Plant Piping Unit, a new manufacturing unit of
BHEL, was setup in 2011 at Thirumayam.
AMMK candidate Pandi is not ready to buy the argument
and alleged,"you must understand that Chidambaram was
Sivaganga MP for about 30 years.
Also, Chidambaram had been a Central Minister for several
years and held various portfolios. Considering such aspects,
no big ticket project really useful for the local people were
brought for our region."
Local youth like C Nagarajan and others alleged the BHEL
unit does not give adequate opportunities to the local youth
and a "large number of employees are from other states."
Despite repeated attempts, BHEL officials were
unavailable for comments.
On the accusation against him by his rivals and some
locals that he was not accessible, Karti replied "how have you
now accessed me...? this is Goebbels propaganda... there is no
truth in it."
Among other issues, the people of Neduvasal who had for
long protested against the Hydrocarbon project seek
reassurance that the initiative will not be pursued.
They also complained about relief package being not
commensurate with the damages caused by cyclone Gaja.
Such factors are expected to have a bearing on the
choice of voters in this belt which falls under Alangudi
Assembly segment.
Karti in his campaign focuses on his party's showpiece
scheme of 'Nyay,' asserting it will be a game changer in the
lives of poor.
Also, he assures village women folk of lowering the
cable television charges to enable them watch their favourite
soap operas.
Raja's campaign, though has references to national
security, is not to the extent seen in BJP's campaign
elsewhere in the country.
He speaks more of local issues, promises implementation
of Cauvery Gundaru River linking project, making Sivaganga a
textile hub for spurring employment opportunities.
Sivaganga has more women electors and number 7,84,513 as
against 7,65,811 elgible men voters. The third gender account
for 66.
Though 26 candidates including Kamal Haasan-led Makkal
Needhi Maiam's Kavingnar Snekan are in the fray, the main
contest is among the Congress, BJP and the AMMK. PTI VGN VS