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Multiple factors at play in Karur district

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L. Renganathan

Labour force, though huge, not playing a major role

KARUR: Traditional support base, local issues, caste factor, internal bickering, tall promises, unfulfilled promises and, of course, charisma of leaders, could determine the poll outcome in Aravakurichi, Karur, Krishnarayapuram (reserved) and Kulithalai, the four constituencies in Karur district, in the absence of any wave.

Industry in its myriad forms has a huge presence in the district. The surging home textile export sector that boasts of an annual turn over of Rs. 2,000 crore, thriving bus body building units, sluggish high density polyethylene mosquito net weaving units, booming 700-odd registered and unregistered private money lending firms and the resilient granite and minor minerals industry weigh in with their economic importance.

Naturally, the large industrial base gives scope for the labour force to play a major role, which unfortunately it does not, because of the absence of any cohesive and combined force.

In the 2001 Assembly elections, the AIADMK-Congress combine swept the district with the AIADMK winning Aravakurichi, Krishnarayapuram and Kulithalai seats. The Congress bagged Karur. The then victorious candidates trounced their DMK rivals convincingly.

Aravakurichi seat

While the AIADMK has won the Aravakurichi seat four times, the DMK has bagged the seat twice and the Congress, thrice. This time, former DMK MLA and present MDMK district secretary, Monjanur P. Ramasamy, and the Indian Union Muslim League candidate are in fray.

Among the issues, the construction of two bridges across the Kodaganaru and Nankanchi rivers, to enter and exit the Aravakurichi town, assumes significance. The Muslim-majority Pallappatti could play a decisive role in electing the new MLA.

In Karur, establishment of a textile park, pollution caused by the Orathupalayam reservoir along the course of the Noyyal, lackadaisical approach to completion of the underground drainage scheme, incomplete Vengamedu road over bridge, construction of a new bus stand and abolition of toll for the new Amaravathy bridge and the allegations of foul play in its construction are issues that matter.

Here, former MLA Vasuki Murugesan (DMK) and V.Senthil Balaji (AIADMK), both belonging to the dominant Kongu Vella Gounder community, are pitted against each other. Since 1957, the Congress and the AIADMK have won the seat four times each, while the DMK candidates have been returned thrice.

SHG factor

In the Krishnarayapuram (reserved) constituency, where there used to be a significant Congress presence, the Lalapet road over bridge, sand mining, distribution of flood relief, and the influence of women self help groups could determine the winner among sitting AIADMK MLA R.Sasikala Ravi and DMK's P.Kamaraj. Internal squabbles in both parties could affect the candidates and it remains to be seen who suffers more.

Weighed down by the `Meenakshi case,' sitting MLA and former minister A.Pappa Sundaram (AIADMK), might find the going tough this time round in Kulithalai. Distribution of flood relief and implementation of the farmers' protection scheme could help him in his duel with R.Manikkam of the DMK.

The AIADMK has won the seat thrice and once as AIADMK (Jayalalithaa faction), the DMK has bagged the seat four times, Congress twice and CPI once since 1957, when DMK president M.Karunanidhi triumphed. Caste factor has a big role to play here, observers say.

Together, the four Assembly constituencies command an electorate of 6,83,116 including 3,39,593 men. Except in Krishnarayapuram, women voters outnumber men in the other three constituencies, which too could be an interesting aspect in the polls.

Both Ms.Jayalalithaa and Mr.Karunanidhi have campaigned in the region.

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