Voters want a ‘strong and sensitive’ MP to uplift the constituency

The Villupuram (Reserved) Parliamentary constituency enjoys the dubious distinction of having the lowest literacy rate in the State and the highest number of hutments in the country.

Situated at a strategic location of linking Chennai to the southern and western districts, this constituency is a key transit point. What has turned the national spotlight on this district in recent years has been the ‘Koovagam Koothandavar’ festival, an annual event held to honour transgenders, who have now attained the legal status as the third gender.

Transgenders would come in hundreds from all over the country and abroad to participate in the rituals. Kalki Subramaniam, a transgender who was eager to contest as an Independent from the seat opted out of the race as it is a reserved constituency.

Before delimitation

Before delimitation of the constituencies, Villupuram formed part of the Tindivanam Lok Sabha seat. Now, the Villupuram constituency comprises Villupuram, Vikkiravandi, Vanur (Reserve), Ulundurpet, Thirukkoilur and Tindivanam (Reserve) Assembly segments.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the first one after delimitation, M. Anandan of the AIADMK scraped through by a slim margin of 2,797 votes, beating K. Swamidurai of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK).

In the fray

The present contest is basically a five-cornered fight.

Those in the fray are S. Rajendran of the AIADMK, Dr. K. Muthaian of the DMK, K. Umasankar of the DMDK, K. Rani of the Congress, G. Anandan of the CPI (M) and G. Kaliyamurthy of the Bahujan Samaj Party, besides 14 independents.

Though ‘Vanniyars’ and ‘Dalits’ constitute two major communities here, they are not divided on caste basis as both have a sprinkling of presence in almost all the parties.

Hence, caste orientation would not be the sole determining factor here.

Clashes

But the clashes between the two communities at Marakkanam last year could impact the DMK’s performance as the Dalit outfit VCK is its ally.

On the face of it, the DMDK—PMK combine, as part of the BJP-front, looks formidable.

But the rumblings among their leaders closer to polling day could tilt the scale one way or the other.

Socio-economic problems

Beset by a host of socio-economic problems, the solutions seem to be elusive in this constituency. Acute unemployment has driven youths in droves to other places and a substantial number of them have landed up in the military, mostly at the lowest rung.

Scores of others have got overseas jobs in the Gulf countries.

Influential Ministers

Though Villupuram boasts of influential Ministers such as K. Ponmudy (DMK) and C.Ve. Shanmugham (AIADMK), its health and education indicators are a matter of concern.

While Dr. Muthaian plays the ‘local resident’ card to score over Ms. Rani, an earlier MP of the Rasipuram constituency, both have promised revival of the ‘Nandan canal system’ to give a thrust to agriculture in this area.

The sitting AIADMK MP, Anandan, faces a trust deficit among the electorate, as his ‘promises’ made during the last poll remain largely on paper.

Residents feel that the constituency continues to be a neglected one.

They asserted that only a “strong and sensitive leader” could put Villupuram on the growth path.