R. Rajaram

Former AIADMK MP contesting as independent candidate

PUDUKOTTAI: The Alangudi Assembly constituency is the only other seat after Tirumayam in the district where a sitting MLA of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has been retained this time.

Having been the MLA of Alangudi for three terms, with 10 years consecutively (from 1996 to 2006), A. Venkatachalam of the AIADMK, who was Tourism Minister for a few months in the earlier period of the present Jayalalithaa regime, is trying his luck again for the fourth time from here.

Giving him a run for his money is the Communist Party of India (CPI) candidate S. Rajasekharan, who lost by a meagre margin of 652 votes in the 1996 polls to Venkatachalam when the latter contested as an independent candidate.

Though Mr.Venkatachalam and Mr.Rajasekharan, who hail from the same constituency, will lock horns, what has made the poll battle even more interesting one here is the entry of a third player in the form of former AIADMK MP Raja Paramasivam who is contesting as an independent candidate now.

Expelled from the AIADMK a few days back, Mr. Raja Paramasivam, who also hails from the same constituency, has been touring the remote areas of the segment just as the AIADMK and CPI candidates garnering support. Whose votes will Mr.Raja Parasivam will eat into will be an interesting factor to watch. The three principal candidates belong to the Mutharayar community whose votes will be the deciding factor here, say political circles.

The segment has a considerable population of Mutharayars, besides Mukkulathors, Udayars, and other communities. Consisting of Thiruvarangulam and a part of Karambakudi and Aranthangi unions, Alangudi is gripped with issues of basic amenities which remains unsolved in many areas even today.

Past election results here from 1962 reveal that the DMK and the AIADMK had won four times each in this segment, while the Congress once. Venkatachalam had won as AIADMK candidate in 1984 and 2001. When denied ticket by the AIADMK in 1996, he contested as an independent and won the seat defeating his present CPI rival Mr.Rajasekaran.

The opposition camp claims that despite being MLA for three terms, Mr.Venkatachalam did not nurse the constituency enough. Further, they claim that there was opposition against the ruling government and the sitting MLA here.

Banking heavily on the alliance factor, the CPI has gone all out to bag the seat this time, promising to implement the Coleroon surplus water scheme besides taking efforts to declare Karambakudi as a separate taluk and providing basic amenities at Karambakudi, a most backward area in the segment.

The CPI calculation is that Mr.Raja Paramasivam would split the votes, which would ultimately go against Venkatachalam. On his part, Mr.Raja Paramasivam claims that he had entered the fray after having interacted with the public of the constituency.

However, Mr.Venkatachalam does not appear to be worried either over Mr.Raja Paramasivam being in the fray or the arithmetic factor.

He has been projecting the developmental works carried out by him in the segment as well as the "achievements" of the AIADMK government while campaigning. Confident of bagging the solid AIADMK votes, he claims, on the other hand, that the entry of Mr.Raja Paramasivam would only affect the prospects of the CPI, which is banking on the DMK and Congress votes in the constituency to win the seat.Amid all these calculations, claims and counter claims, the segment is expected to witness a fierce battle this time around. The Vijaykant's Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) nominee K. Selvinraj and Bharatiya Janata Party's R. Jeevanandham are also in the fray. The constituency has a total electorate exceeding 1.97 lakh with men outnumbering women.