S. Ganesan

Former DMK Minister K.N. Nehru tests his luck Former DMK Minister K.N. Nehru tries his luck here for the first time

TIRUCHI: The fight for supremacy between the traditional rivals, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), in the Tiruchi-II Assembly constituency has taken a new twist, with the former DMK Minister, K.N.Nehru, chancing his arms here for the first time.

Mr. Nehru has taken a seemingly calculated risk of his chequered political career, shifting to Tiruchi-II from his native Lalgudi, from where he was elected twice before. He had also lost in Lalgudi twice, including in the 2001 elections by a narrow margin. The stakes are high not only for Mr. Nehru but also for the DMK, as his decision has resulted in some intra-party realignment in the district, especially the shifting of Anbil Periasamy, the party's sitting MLA, to Tiruchi-I.

Though on paper it will be a multi-cornered contest with A.D. Sendhureswaran (son of the former civil servant, A.N. Dhyaneswaran) of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) and M. Mathiarasan of the Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) also in the fray, the main fight will be between the AIADMK and the DMK.

Mr. Nehru is locked in a stiff contest with N. Mariam Pitchai, a former district secretary of the AIADMK. Both are no strangers to the constituency, yet they will essentially tread on a new electoral turf.

Going by the past record, the DMK and the AIADMK seem equally strong, with the former enjoying a slight edge. The DMK has won the constituency five times since 1967, while the AIADMK has emerged victorious four times. Prior to 1967, the Communist stalwart, M. Kalyanasundaram, had been a three-time MLA from the constituency.

Development and civic amenities are the major issues. Prominent among them would be recurrent floods in the city during the monsoon and the failure of the successive DMK and AIADMK Governments to implement the proposed flood prevention scheme.

Some of the residents welfare associations in the flood-prone areas have threatened to boycott the polls. The two main contenders have promised to pursue the scheme.

The flood relief package had reached a substantial number of people, but at the same time there are an equal number of claimants, if not more, who had not got it.

Mr. Nehru, who has the distinction of having served a full five-year term as Food Minister during the previous DMK region, being a ministerial candidate is counted as an advantage among the partymen.

Mr. Mariam Pitchai, as chairman of the Ariyamangalam zone in the Corporation Council, is familiar with most of the development needs and has been promising to address them. As it is a predominantly urban constituency, the caste factor is not known to have had a major bearing on the results.

With the candidates taking to the streets just this week and their party leaders expected to campaign towards the month-end, the intense battle promises a photo finish.

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