All of them highlight the need to have a strong MP who can fight for Tiruchi

Candidates of major political parties spelt out their agenda for development of the Tiruchi Lok Sabha constituency at a meeting hosted by the Federation of Consumer and Service Organisations here on Saturday.

Setting up an integrated bus stand in the city, expansion of the Tiruchi Airport, ensuring better rail connectivity from Tiruchi, and strengthening the irrigation infrastructure to benefit farmers of the dry Pudukottai belt were among the some of the common assurances held out by the candidates. Some of them promised to work for restoration of the Pudukottai Lok Sabha constituency, which was abolished under the delimitation process.

Candidates of all major parties, barring the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, attended the meeting. The federation presented a charter of demands seeking better rail and domestic air connectivity from Tiruchi, upgrade of the Tiruchi Government Hospital (GH) on a par with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and inclusion of the city under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

M. Sekaran, president of the federation, said the absence of a strong representative for the city had resulted in many Union government projects being taken away to other cities.

Congress candidate Sarubala R. Tondaiman listed her “achievements” as a former Mayor of the city and claimed that “the Congress had a vision for the development of the State and the constituency as well.” The urban infrastructure created during her tenure was not being maintained properly, she said.

S. Sridhar, Communist Party of India (Marxist), said his party had fought alongside consumer and service organisations of the city on major development issues. The central bus stand in the city should be expanded by annexing the Defence land or a suitable site would be identified for setting up an integrated bus stand.

N. Mu. Anbazhagan, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate, said he was aware of the problems of the city as he had been councillor since 1996. However, major development projects were implemented only when the DMK was in power. The city had missed out on projects as the State government did not have an amicable relationship with the Centre.

S. Senthil Kumar, DMDK MLA who attended the meeting on behalf of the party candidate A.M.G. Vijaykumar, said the party would strive to continue the unfinished development agenda of the late Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, former BJP MP of the constituency. The city would not have lost on development projects if the MPs had lobbied effectively, he said.

P. Ravi of the Aam Aadmi Party promised to root out corruption and claimed that a moped was his only asset. “I do not wish to hold out false promises, but I will deliver the goods. I will use only Rs. 30,000 a month and spend the rest of my salary for education of the poor,” he said.