George Jacob

AIADMK posing serious threat to both fronts

PEERUMADE: This is one constituency, which will face the complexities unleashed by the crisis in agriculture sector. The once thriving tea gardens remain closed and the once buoyant cash crop rich areas are facing unprecedented challenges. With large number of small trade union outfits, who engage themselves in green leaf business, the situation is near anarchical in the plantation areas spread over the grama panchayats of Peerumade, Vandiperiyar and Elappara.

There are four candidates in the fray, including the sitting MLA E.M. Augusthy of the Congress. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) has fielded E.S. Bijimol of the CPI. This is one of the three constituencies where the AIADMK has its own candidate in M.K. Subburao. Stephen Issac of the BJP is also in the fray.

Mr. Augusthy is focussing on the welfare schemes introduced by the United Democratic Front (UDF) Government to alleviate the plantation labourers, while Bijimol banks on the issues of massive corruption in these schemes. The general crisis in the agriculture sector, from tea to cardamom is the plank on which the LDF has based its campaign. While the Left presence was traditionally confined to the plantation areas, this strategy has helped Bijimol to intrude into the cash crop areas, including the Peruvanthanam, Kokkayar, Upputhara, and Kumily.

On the other hand, Mr. Augusthy is trying to drive into the already existing chinks in the Left armour along with the complexities in the trade union politics following the fall of the great plantations. The candidature of Bijimol, district panchayat member and prospective district panchayat president candidate, had raised serious challenges to a whole generation of leaders in the CPI. The complex trade union dynamics had already cost two lives, that of CPI(M) leader Ayyappa Das and INTUC leader M. Balu.

More than anything else, the small trade union outfits, which thrive on the near anarchical situation in Peermade, helps to `commodify' the votes as they have already gained experience as in the case of green leaves. In all the closed plantations, these small timers are making big money by taking up sales of green leaves on their own. It would be interesting to note their role in the coming elections.

Unlike this time, during the last elections, the AIADMK was part of the NDA alliance and it was the BJP, which represented the alliance.

Today both are in the fray and the direct presence of the AIADMK has posed serious threat to both the LDF and UDF.

Out of the 1,53,491 voters in the constituency, nearly one-third are Tamil plantation labourers.

During the 2004 Parliament elections, LDF candidate Francis George had only a nominal lead of 33 votes in the Assembly segment. In the local bodies election that followed, the UDF put a commendable performance. Out of the seven constituencies, Peruvanthanam, Kokkayar, Elappara, and Vandiperiyar are with the UDF, while Kumily and Peerumade remained with the LDF.