The constituency is dominated by middle and upper-middle class households
In a constituency such as Anna Nagar, which is largely self-sufficient with residential, commercial, educational and healthcare facilities, the contestants have to also fight complacency among residents.
In the 2006 Assembly election, 2,16,659 of the 3,52,829 voters in the constituency exercised their franchise. This time, a little over 2.16 lakh voters are set to decide the fate of 20 candidates in the fray.
“People have to come out, irrespective of whom they vote for and that is one of my main agenda as I go about campaigning,” says S.Gokula Indira, AIADMK candidate, who is an advocate and resident of Choolaimedu. The former Rajya Sabha MP promises to address the issues associated with the rapid development that several pockets of the constituency face.
Post-delimitation, the Anna Nagar constituency comprises Divisions 66 to 70 and Divisions 73 to 75 of the Chennai Corporation. They are Anna Nagar West (66), Central (67) and East (68), Shenoy Nagar (69), Kilpauk (North) (70), Aminjikarai East (73), Central (74) and West (75).
Prior to the delimitation, the Corporation divisions of Kilpauk South, Purasawalkam, Periyar Nagar (North and South) and Nungambakkam were also part of the constituency.
The constituency is largely dominated by middle and upper-middle class households. There are also a few slums along the banks of the Cooum river.
In the opposite camp is V.K.Arivazhagan of the Congress, who like Ms.Indira is also contesting an Assembly election for the first time.
“I would focus on empowering the youth by starting skill development programmes for slum dwellers,” the 39-year-old BE (Electronics and Communication) graduate Mr.Arivazhagan says.
Anna Nagar has remained a DMK fortress since the formation of the constituency in 1977, except in 1991 when Congress candidate A. Chellakumar won it. In the last three elections, Arcot N. Veeraswami of the DMK won the seat. Others in the fray this time includes Bharatiya Janata Party's P.K. Haribabu, a resident of Choolai, and S.Kannan of Bahujan Samaj Party.
Many residents, however, say it is not right to call Anna Nagar a bastion of any party. “Anna Nagar is well developed by itself. No party has influenced its growth,” says L.N. Rajagopalan, a long-time resident of Anna Nagar. This probably is also one of the reasons for the low voter turnout, he adds.
With the growing population, the constituency is facing new challenges on various fronts. To start with, the increased commercialisation has taken away the charm of this planned neighbourhood, which once was quiet and hence a preferred locality for senior citizens.
The Exnora Club of Anna Nagar has asked the contestants to spell out their plans to address the civic problems. From desilting of the Cooum river and Otteri Nullah, removal of the encroachments and provision of uninterrupted power and water supply the demands of the residents are many. Members of the Exnora Club also want the Government Peripheral Hospital, located on 3rd Avenue, Anna Nagar, to be upgraded a speciality hospital with all facilities.
Anna Nagar Residents Welfare Association Secretary V. Selvamuthu says that renovation of Visveswaraya Tower Park, Thiru-Vi-Ka Park, improvement in water supply and bus services are some of the measures undertaken in the last five years. Mosquito menace in the localities along the Otteri Nullah, inadequate parking space in commercial areas, encroachments on roads across the constituency are some of the issues the contestants should address, he adds.
I.Sreedevi, a resident of Kilpauk Garden, concurs. “Open drains pose health hazards for the residents. Doctors discourage us from using mosquito repellents, but we have little choice but to go against their advice in summer. What I want to hear from the candidates is their long-term plan to combat the mosquito menace.”
The increase in the number of high-rise buildings is also taking a toll on the groundwater table and the residents want solutions. While slum dwellers want better sanitary conditions and water supply to areas not connected by pipelines, autorickshaw drivers in Aminjikarai want better roads.
The total electorate of the constituency, as on January this year, was 2,16,440. There are 1,08,343 male, 1,08,082 female and 15 others. There are a total of 216 polling stations.