Many of them don’t even know major problems, solutions

S. Sridharan is not a well-known person in Coimbatore.

But he wants to be one and the path he has chosen for it is by contesting the Lok Sabha election from Coimbatore.

The Rathinapuri resident says he has thrown his hat into the ring to have his name in the election records and also to let people know that “40-year-old youth like me” are interested in politics and keen to contest.

Mr. Sridharan, who is a realtor, does not have a Permanent Account Number and has only meagre movable and immovable assets.

But he says he will campaign by borrowing from friends.

“I know I’ll not win, but I just want to contest.”

He does not have an opinion on major issues that the political parties are highlighting — Sethusamudram Canal, FDI in retail, and introduction of GM crops, among others.

That makes him just one among the Independents in the fray in Coimbatore.

M. Ranjith Kumar, 38, says he is contesting because friends and members of his community have encouraged him to do so.

The Tiruchendur resident had come to the city in 1984 to work in a grocery shop. He now owns a shop in Ukkadam.

Mr. Kumar says that he will campaign in markets where members of his community are in a majority and also in other markets identifying himself as a trader.

“I’ll walk from market to market in the city to seek votes for that is the only campaign style I can afford.”

His poll promise will be the overall development of Coimbatore and nothing more.

On issues that the political parties highlight, he says he will have to consult his friends and well-wishers and only then comment.

For S. Nagaraj, 34, another Independent, contesting election is a way to highlight the problems the Dalits face in Coimbatore and elsewhere.

“The marginalised sections need a voice,” is his refrain.

He says he has asked friends for donations to print pamphlets, which he will distribute door-to-door to seek votes.

He wants to provide basic amenities like roads, electricity, and water for the Dalits.

He says he has contested the 2011 Assembly elections from the Kinathukadavu constituency.

Asked why he was contesting Lok Sabha election when he could contest local body election to provide the basic amenities, he says he wants to grab every opportunity that comes his way.

All is not well

But there seems more than what meets the eye.

Official sources say that most often Independents act on behalf of political parties, which use their booth agents and counting agents to gain strength on the day of polling and counting. In a few instances, the parties also pay the nomination fee as the Independents do not have the wherewithal to even pay the money required.

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