Unresolved issues upset the electorate
The Dalit-dominated Tiruvallur (reserved) Lok Sabha constituency is one of the Parliamentary segments in the State that has recorded the highest number of new voters ahead of this general election. The newly enrolled nearly five lakh-plus voters could play a crucial role in deciding which way the multi-corner contest would go this time.
P. Venugopal, sitting MP of the AIADMK, is re-contesting the seat. Others in the fray are D. Ravikumar of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), S. Yuvaraj of the Desiya Murpokku Dravidar Kazhagam (DMDK), M. Jayakumar of the Congress and A.S. Kannan of the Communist Party of India (CPI). The Aam Aadmi Party has fielded B. Balamurugan.
Dr. Venugopal says he is approaching people by highlighting the flagship welfare schemes launched by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa such as free distribution of mixies, table fans, grinders, besides free laptops and bicycles for college and school students.
A visit to Kammavarpalayam to witness Dr. Venugopal’s campaign on Wednesday revealed that the locals have not received the freebies. They complained to him that they did not receive grinders. In reply, Dr. Venugopal said getting the suitable stone for the grinders led to the delay in distribution.
Installation of two dialysis machines in Ponneri and two more in Tiruvallur hospitals, the construction of a check dam at Soranjeri village in the Avadi panchayat were some of his achievements that would work in favour of him, he said.
A cross-section of the local people spoken to said, a tough contest was ahead for D. Ravikumar. But the Tiruvallur constituency, in the first place, was not in the wish list of his party when the VCK negotiated with the DMK, said Ravikumar. Moreover, factions in the local DMK have added to his woes, though all local DMK leaders are canvassing for him here.
Tucked away in Tamil Nadu’s northern stretch, Tiruvallur is one of the backward districts with regard to education and employment. So Mr. Ravikumar’s campaign has focussed on this issue, besides the lack of adequate skilled manpower in the district, which also houses a good number and range of industries.
Some of the key issues, which were promised during the previous Parliament election in 2009, remain unsolved in this constituency. For example, an important demand of people — the upgrade of the District Headquarters hospital into a medical college hospital, is yet to be executed.
Another important demand pertains to halting of superfast trains in Tiruvallur. As a good number of trains do not stop here, passengers have to alight at other stations and change trains to reach the town. This includes having to travel up to Perambur and returning to Tiruvallur. Hence the locals want halting of superfast trains at Avadi and Tiruvallur.
Dr. Venugopal said he had spoken to the railway authorities about this but the railways cited some technical reasons for not halting the trains. A full-fledged reservation counter at Gummidipoondi and a higher secondary school for boys are some of the other demands.