Farm issues set the tone in a four-cornered contest
The two Dravidian majors, DMK and AIADMK are engaged in keen fight to pocket Tiruvannamalai constituency, with the PMK also making a pitch for a sizeable section of the voters for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Congress is far behind in gaining momentum.
The Tiruvannamalai town, an important pilgrimage centre where several lakh of devotees go around the hill traversing 14km circumambulatory path on full moon days and worship the hill, is the single biggest contributor of electorate among the urban local bodies that fall under the constituency.
Trade and livelihood of people of Tiruvannamalai considerably depend on nature-loving pilgrims. Mindless constructions around the hill may usurp the serenity and peace and may spell doom to the tourism economy, in the long run, say experts.
An agricultural district, it mainly depends on well and tank irrigation apart from the pockets that rely on canal irrigation. Drought rendered these water sources dry for last three years and the farm sector is grappling to deal with the crisis. While farmers of delta region were given drought relief farmers of these region were left to deal the crisis themselves.
The backbone of thousands of agricultural families were broken when they lost their cattle heads during recent foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. The calamity was grossly underreported and affected families were not compensated. Unlike other issues it may directly have its impact on elections. People expect direct train services to connect Tiruvannamalai and Chennai.
Another burning issue that may have bearing on the election results is the iron ore mining project that is threatening to come up in Kavuthi-Vediyappan hills near here. As the protest against the project continue to swell, both DMK and AIADMK broke their silence to tell their electorate they are dead against the project.
For the PMK again trying to revive its ‘Vanniyar caste politics,’ Tiruvannamalai would be a key testing ground.
In 2009, flamboyant Vanniyar mascot and PMK candidate J. Guru was trounced here by a huge margin by DMK’s D. Venugopal, also a ‘Vanniyar.’
The PMK was then in the AIADMK-led alliance and now it is in the BJP-front. It would be interesting to see how the electorate this time would respond to PMK candidate G. Ethirolimanian, as both the DMK candidate C.N. Annadurai and the AIADMK candidate R. Vanaroja belong to ‘Mudaliayar’ community. The Congress has fielded A. Subramaniam.
There is discontent in a section of the DMK as a relatively junior party man, Mr. Annadurai has got the ticket. The party largely relies on its district secretary E.V. Velu’s organisational skills.
The AIADMK too is not on a comfortable wicket given the public’s discontent over power cuts and soaring crimes.