Central Chennai has its own set of poll issues

High-rise buildings and slums co-exist in this constituency. While central Chennai, at the very heart of the city, benefits from government projects substantially, it is not without poll issues ranging from traffic jams, need for better road and rail connectivity, to cleaner waterways.

With a mix of educated, affluent and middle class population, voters in this constituency look forward to measures to decongest arterial roads. Relocation of slum neighbourhoods for infrastructure projects and issues related to linguistic and religious minorities, who have a significant presence, are likely to impact voter choices.

The Chennai Central constituency comprises six Assembly segments- Anna Nagar, Villivakkam, Egmore, Harbour, Chepauk-Triplicane and Thousand Lights. A common problem that is affecting the entire constituency is the increasing vehicular traffic, now aggravated by one-way routes. A classic example is of Anna Salai. At the hub of it are the temporary set backs from the Metro Rail project. Though it would revolutionise rail connectivity, many voters say that the metro has worsened the traffic situation. V. Nagasundaram, secretary, Anna Nagar Welfare Association, said “Anna Nagar, a well-planned area, has become unsafe for pedestrians as many roads have been turned into one-ways and there are no traffic signals'”.

Though the restoration of the Cooum river has been an oft-discussed topic for few decades, a clean river is still a dream for residents who want the Centre and State governments to coordinate for the ambitious project. The unfinished Chennai Port-Maduravoyal elevated corridor has added to residents’ woes.

Dotted with several suburban stations, and two rail terminals - Egmore and Chennai Central, residents complain of lack of basic amenities in many of the suburban stations. Bus connectivity must be provided to the stations. Residents of Villivakkam want the Centre to reconsider a proposal to make Villivakkam railway station a terminal.

Despite a multi-cornered contest in the offing, Chennai Central constituency is likely to be a straight fight between the DMK and the AIADMK, in what has been DMK’s forte since 1977.

“Electors in some wards are expected to vote for a candidate who is likely to successfully contribute to an alternative government at the Centre,” said a Corporation councillor.

While the other parties are yet to announce their candidates, former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran of the DMK is recontesting this seat, pitted against AIADMK’s S.R. Vijayakumar, in what looks a delicately poised poll-battle.