Vilathikulam Assembly Constituency, one of the six segments in Tuticorin district, is witnessing a three-cornered contest with candidates from the major political parties of Congress and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the fray. Besides, a candidate from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), another national party, is also in the fray.
Eleven candidates, including independents, are contesting from Vilathikulam constituency with a total electorate of 1,74,991 — 87, 483 men and 87,508 women. K. Perumalsamy of the Congress and V. Markandayan of AIADMK are considered sons of the soil. It is a maiden contest for both the candidates in Assembly election. While Mr. Perumalsamy is leading the Indian Youth Congress in Tuticorin, Mr. Markandayan is holding the position of chairman of Pudur panchayat union for the past 10 years. He is also serving as an advocate in Magistrate cum Munsif Court, Vilathikulam.
This constituency has a sizable population of people belonging to the Reddiyar community. Since many candidates of this community has won from this constituency, caste factor may play a crucial role. The previous assembly election in 2006 was won by AIADMK candidate P. Chinnappan against K. Rajaram (DMK). Of the total electorate, Dalit voters form the majority. But after delimitation exercise, people belonging to a caste Hindu community has risen phenomenally in this segment.
In 1962, R.L. Ramasamy of Congress won the election. In 1967 and 1971, Rathinansabapathy of DMK was the winner. In 1977 and 1980, R.K. Perumal of AIADMK, in 1984, Kumaragurupara Ramanathan of the DMK and K.K.S.S. Ramachadran of AIADMK (1989), Kanagavalli of AIADMK (1991), Ravishankar of DMK (1996) and N.K. Perumal of AIADMK (1996) have won the elections in the past.
Vilathikulam is the most backward area of all constituencies in Tuticorin district. Drinking water scarcity looms large everywhere. Though natural water resource in the form of Vaipaar river is there, illegal sand mining is rampant. As sand mining on the river bed is going unchecked, access to drinking water has been largely affected. Demands are high among farmers for the construction of a check-dam across the Vaipar.
Agriculture is the major occupation of people but owing to lack of water resources, farmers could not rely on cultivation of vegetables. They depend on rain-fed cultivation of crops. Chilli is the chief crop.
Roads are in an appalling condition all over the constituency. Because of high movement of heavy vehicles (lorries with sand etc), the condition of roads have become worsened. Transport facilities are also not up to the mark. The constituency is deprived of educational institutions and a proper healthcare system. But the State government has announced that an arts and science college will be established at Nagalapuram in the constituency.
The candidate who wins over the confidence of voters through assurances of basic needs such as drinking water, road infrastructure and establishment of industrial infrastructure for red chilli farmers will reap victory here.
Keywords: Tamil Nadu assembly polls