A DMK stronghold, which the AIADMK is trying to wrest

Predominantly agrarian, Thanjavur Lok Sabha constituency has a population mix of farmers, farm labourers, to some extent fishermen in the coastal areas like Adhirampattinam, Sethubavachathiram and artisans.

The constituency was reconstituted in the last Lok Sabha election, and at present it accounted for the Assembly segments of Thanjavur, Thiruvaiyaru, Orathanadu, Pattukottai and Peravurani (all in Thanjavur district) and Mannargudi segment (Tiruvarur district).

Paddy farmers constitute the major chunk while coconut farmers and sugarcane farmers are also in large numbers. Coconut farmers are more in Pattukottai and Peravurani areas. Sugarcane farmers are more in Thanjavur and Orathanadu because of the location of State Government owned Arignar Anna sugar mills at Kurunkulam near Thanjavur.

The major demands of the people, as farmers are more, have been good procurement price for paddy, sugarcane and coconut. The farmers demand Rs. 2,000 per quintal for paddy and Rs. 3,000 per tonne for sugarcane. The present price given by the Government is Rs. 1,420 per quintal of fine variety of paddy, Rs. 1,370 per quintal for common variety of paddy and Rs. 2,650 per tonne for sugarcane.

Ramanathan, a farmer from Orathanadu said that the demand for Rs. 2,000 per quintal of paddy “is there from 2009 itself.” Inputs cost has gone up. “But price is not hiked commensurate with expenditure we incur,” he said.

Another major issue is the proposed methane extraction project in Thanjavur and Mannargudi areas. The present State Government has stayed the project and appointed a committee to go into the details and submit a report. But the people of the constituency want the project scrapped. Other demands they place forth are modification of crop insurance scheme, besides complete desilting and modernisation of irrigation channels in the constituency.

S. Ranganathan, Secretary of Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association and a voter from Mannargudi said that crop insurance scheme should be made more realistic and beneficial to farmers.

“There are numerous complaints from farmers that the individual farmer is not benefited under the present scheme as crop damage assessments are done at firca level,” Mr. Ranganathan said.

With respect to infrastructure, the constituency is well connected by roads and rails. Two more rail projects are on the anvil.

They are Pattukottai-Thanjavur railway line and Mannargudi-Pattukottai link. People are demanding a Thanjavur-Ariyalur railway line also.

Thanjavur town people seek a foot overbridge near the famous Big Temple and a subway near the old bus stand in the town.

The constituency has been a stronghold of the DMK for many years. Now the AIADMK is trying to wrest it from the DMK. The DMK has fielded former Union Minister, T.R. Baalu as its candidate denying ticket to local veteran and former Union Minister, S.S. Palani Manickam, a record five-time consecutive winner. The AIADMK has fielded K. Prasuraman, President of Neelagiri Panchayat as its candidate. Both have already launched their campaigns.

In the ensuing Lok Sabha polls, Thanjavur will witness a multi-cornered contest.

The CPI (M) is contesting for the first time from here, while the Congress is going it alone and a candidate is in the offing from the BJP-led front.

This would make the 2014 contest even more absorbing in a turf that sent Congress stalwarts like the late R. Venkatraman in 1957 to Parliament, until Dravidian parties took hold since 1967 to usher in a new era of alliance politics with the national parties.