Local issues figured prominently in run-up to election

From public meeting to door-to-door canvassing, candidates contesting from eight Lok Sabha constituencies in western region tried out all options on the last day of the campaign on Tuesday.

The region with over 1.25 crore voters goes to polls on April 24 with a litany of problems, most of which are caused by power shortage. The other major problem weighing heavily in the minds of the electorate is the shortage of potable water and also for irrigation.

In this context, the long-pending Avinashi-Athikadavu project for the farm sector in the Erode-Tirupur-Coimbatore region figured in the campaign.

Many of the local issues peculiar to each of the eight constituencies figured prominently in the campaign even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made a hard sell of its national-level plank - Narendra Modi as Prime Minister for corruption-free governance - and the Congress and the Left countered it with a warning of a communal divide.

The BJP signed off on the last day with a public meeting in Coimbatore by its former president M. Venkaiah Naidu, at which he said a BJP-led government would carry out a time-bound probe into the scams that broke out during the Congress-led regime for the last 10 years. He also said that a BJP-led Government would control prices.

Top leaders of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam sparred with each other over power crisis and water-related issues. The DMK and the AIADMK targeted each other on the pace of implementation of the Rs.1900-crore Hogenakkal water scheme for Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts.

The BJP is upbeat after the campaign by Mr. Modi in Coimbatore, Salem and Krishnagiri. It, however, suffered a setback with the nomination of party candidate for The Nilgiris, S. Gurumurthy, being rejected because he did not submit the authorisation forms. Thus, the BJP lost one seat before even one vote was cast.

The Congress did not have any top national leader campaigning for its candidates in the region. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy campaigned in Coimbatore and Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in Krishnagiri.

Barring the attack on Pattali Makkal Katchi leader and National Democratic Alliance candidate for Dharmapuri Anbumani Ramadoss, electioneering was largely incident-free in the region. Seven persons were arrested in connection with the attack.

Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, who belongs to the dominant Vanniyar community, contests in a constituency where votes are polarised on caste-lines owing to a standoff between Dalits and members of his community.