PMK goof-up in filing nomination brings cheer to VCK

The fast-paced developments of the last few days in the Chidambaram Lok Sabha (reserve) constituency have baffled both political parties and the electorate.

The sudden defection of K.I. Manirathinem, a realtor, from the Congress to the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), just to get ticket for the 2014 elections, ended in an anti-climax.

His shift in breakneck speed was only matched by the hurry with which Mr. Manirathinem filed four nomination papers on April 3, with Ariyalur District Collector E. Saravanavelraj. But his hopes were quickly dashed as all his papers were rejected on April 7, scrutiny day, for a procedural lapse. Yet the saving grace was that the papers of his wife, Sudha Manirathinem, the alternative candidate, were accepted.

Ms. Sudha has saved the day for both the PMK and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the State by not only being their just-in-time candidate but also their sole woman nominee for this election. Yet, it seems a mute point whether she would be able to play the role envisaged by PMK leaders for her husband initially: to establish rapport with the Dalits in this reserved constituency.

While she has been a very successful president of the all-woman Nattarmangalam panchayat and winner of a Central government award, she finds herself suddenly catapulted to being a Lok Sabha candidate. However, neither the PMK nor any of its NDA allies are upbeat about the sudden turn of events.

This has turned the winds in favour of the Dalit leader and Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK) founder, Thol. Thirumavalavan, who is seeking re-election with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s strong backing.

In fact, the sudden change of the PMK’s candidate has put many a VCK worker on cloud nine, more so with the Dalits having an aversion to the PMK and its caste politics. Yet, Mr. Thirumavalavan cannot be complacent, say analysts.

The Congress has fielded P. Vallalperuman, its former Member of Parliament and seasoned political worker. He has the distinction of having been elected thrice in a row, in 1984, 1989 and 1991, from this constituency, though he fell short in performance. Further, the party is driven by factionalism, even as the Congress-led UPA draws flak for the unrelenting rise in the prices of essential commodities, among other issues.

M. Chandrakasi, All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) candidate, is banking on the achievements of the Jayalalithaa government. But in establishing personal rapport with the electorate, Mr. Chandrakasi still lags far behind his PMK and VCK rivals.

In what looks essentially a four-cornered contest in Chidambaram, which often takes the beating of natural disasters, the need for damning the surplus flows of encircling rivers for both irrigation and drinking water supply is a key issue among the electorate.

The Veeranam tank, one of the vital sources of supply to Chennai, remains heavily silted. Its deepening would increase its holding capacity to augment drinking water supply and give a thrust to agriculture. But nothing has been done towards this end.

The tourism potential of this region, with Pichavaram and the renowned Chidambaram temple in the middle, also remains untapped.

Lack of agro-based industries has aggravated the unemployment problem for the youth.

The electorate here, therefore, look for an MP who can really deliver.