R. Vimal Kumar
P. Krishnasamy looks to have an edge over others in the fray
Tuticorin: Ottapidaram, one of the most communally volatile constituencies in the State, is likely to witness electoral battle between Puthiya Tamizhagam leader K. Krishnasamy, who is contesting as a Bahujan Samaj Party candidate, and candidates of two Dravidian parties, P Mohan (AIADMK) and S.X. Rajamannar (DMK).
Infamous for the 1995 riots at Kodiyankulam hamlet, Ottapidaram remains the most backward of all the seven Assembly segments in the district despite tall promises of infrastructure development by the contestants during every Assembly polls.
Considering its backwardness, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) identified Ottapidaram for the implementation of `Integrated Development of Backward Blocks' project in the Potential Linked Credit Plan 2006-07.
Owing to lack of infrastructure, there is no capital absorption in the constituency in the last few decades and the ground level credit flow remains extremely poor.
As a silver lining in a dark cloud, Puthiamputhur village in the segment has be become a hub for textile activities with many units classified under Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) manufacturing garments for women.
However, the industry never flourished beyond a certain level and the products failed to penetrate niche segments outside the State, owing to government apathy and lack of enthusiasm from elected representatives to develop the village into a vibrant textile cluster.
The candidates in the fray, hence, will have to explain how they are going to overcome the lacunae in the infrastructure front such as poor roads, erratic drinking water supply etc.
No party bastion
The only reserved constituency in the district, Ottapidaram has a history of electing candidates from different parties with no party having succeeded in stamping its authority permanently.
While Indian National Congress candidates emerged victorious in 1962, 1977 and 1984, Forward Bloc candidate M. Muthiah won the 1967 and 1971 elections.
The CPI succeeded in grabbing the seat in 1980, DMK in 1989, Janata Party in 1996, and AIADMK in 1991 and 2001.
Dr. Krishnasamy, who won the seat in 1996 on a Janata Party ticket, defeating S. Paulraj of AIADMK, looks to be holding slight edge over his nearest rivals, mostly because of the Dalit vote base in the segment and faction fights within the AIADMK.
A. Sivaperumal (AIADMK), who won the 2001 elections defeating Dr. Krishnasamy by a very thin margin of 651 votes, was denied ticket this time and P. Mohan, a relatively fresh face had been given the chance. Since then, Mr Sivaperumal and his supporters had come out in the open, criticising the party leadership in the district at a recent press meet.
Dr. Krishnasamy's other rival, Mr. Rajamannar of DMK, looks to be a shadow of his self since he was elected to the Assembly from the constituency in 1991on a AIADMK ticket.
Another factor which is loaded in favour of Dr. Krishnasamy is that he was able to secure 42.59 percent of vote share, just 0.71 percent less than the victor, when he faced defeat in the 2001 elections.
A. Shanthana Kumar of BJP will have only an outside chance of victory.