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A fight between Congress and MDMK in Ramnad

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C. Jaishankar

AIADMK and DMK have allotted seats to their alliance parties

Ramanathapuram: Though elections for the Ramanathapuram constituency will be a low profile this time because of the fact that both the AIADMK and the DMK have opted out of the race by allotting seats to their alliance parties, the Congress and the MDMK have locked horns in the constituency with 50:50 chances.

While the MDMK has fielded M. Palanisamy, a karate master, the Congress has given a chance to K. Hashan Ali of Kilakarai, a business magnet. Both are debutants for the elections. They are not familiar to the electorate.

Though the constituency has a sizeable Muslim population, it is traditionally an AIADMK stronghold. The AIADMK won the elections held in 1977, 1980, 1984, 1991 and 2001 since 1977. The DMK has held the seat just two times since 1977.

The Congress has never won a seat since 1967. Zeenath Sherifudeen, who contested the seat in 1980 lost to T. Ramasamy of the AIADMK, who won the elections three times consecutively in 1977, 1980 and 1984. However, the Congress played a supportive role for the AIADMK and the DMK victories in the past. Shanmuga Raja Sethupathy, Raja of Ramnad, held the seat thrice from 1951 to192.

Though the area coming under the constituency is still considered as undeveloped area in the absence of proper employment opportunities, fishing trade and tourism have occupied a portion of the economy of the constituency.

Dwindling population of fish in the sea, low prices offered for export fish varieties, lack of storage facilities, overpopulation of fishermen and other reasons have added to the woes of fishermen in the Rameswaram Island.

Frequent attacks by Sri Lankan Navy when fishermen cross the International Maritime Boundaries for fishing in their `traditional fishing areas' and the long pending demand of retrieving Katchateevu and opposition to the Sethusamudram project are some of the hot subjects raised by fishermen in the elections.

The slow progress of the broadgauge conversion work, unmotorable roads, including the NH 210 and unsolved drinking water problem of the area have also figured in the talk of the election.

People think that despite abundant human resources and large tracts of unused land, the successive governments failed to use the available resources in the district.

There is absolutely no progress in the area on the industrial front.

However, the solace for the people is that a few private companies have installed gas-based power plants on the eastern side of Ramanathapuram. But, the villagers, who are living around the power plants, complaint that power plants prefer to give employment opportunities only to the skilled and unskilled workforce from other districts and other states.

Though the BJP, the DMDK and other parties have fielded their candidates for the Ramanathauram constituency, the fight is between the AIADMK-backed MDMK candidate, Mr. Palanisamy and the DMK supported Congress candidate, Mr. Hashan Ali.

While Mr. Palanisamy totally depends of the AIADMK and the votes from Rameswaram, where he hails from, for his victory, Mr. Hashan ali has pinned his hopes on the commitment of the DMK.

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