Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni will be in focus for several reasons

The Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni constituency is teeming with people, faiths and questions. A composite constituency created by integrating some areas from the erstwhile Chepauk and Triplicane Assembly segments, this urban enclave built around the new Secretariat complex will be in focus for several reasons.

Can DMK candidate J.Anbazhagan match the expectations of voters in Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni constituency that elected Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi in the last three Assembly elections?

Will the inclusion of some localities in Triplicane within its limit impact the results in the constituency? Do religious groups still count in urban voting patterns?

The Chepauk-Thiruvallikeni constituency now comprises Chennai Corporation Divisions 79 (Adikesavapuram), 81 (Chintadripet), 82 (Komaleeswaranpet), 83 (Balasubramaniam Nagar), 84 (Thiruvotteeswaranpet), 85 (Dr.Natesan Nagar), 86 (Chepauk), 87 (Zam Bazaar), 88 (Umarupulavar Nagar), 89 (Thiruvallikeni), 90 (Marina), 91 (Krishnampet), 92 (Bharathi Nagar), 93 (Azad Nagar - North), 95 (Azad Nagar-South) and 111 (Amir Mahal). The constituency has 184 polling stations.

A total of 1,79,510 voters in the constituency, including 89,688 men, 89,815 women and seven others will have a say on election day.

In 2006, Mr. Karunanidhi won in Chepauk by a margin of 8,522 votes, defeating the AIADMK-supported independent candidate Dawoon Miakhan.

The Chepauk constituency, which was created in 1977, has witnessed straight fights between the DMK and the AIADMK in 1977, 1980 and 1984, with DMK's A.Rahmankhan winning each time.

In 1989, 1991, 1996 and 2001, the DMK clashed with the Congress. Except in 1991, when DMK general secretary K.Anbazhagan was defeated by Zeenath Sheriffudin, it won the seat on all the occasions. In 1996, Mr.Karunanidhi won the seat for the first time and in 2001, he won again by a margin of 4,834 votes.

In Triplicane, on the other hand, 2006 saw Bader Sayeed (AIADMK) defeating M. Naganathan (DMK) by a margin of 2,776 votes. For the two terms prior to that, Hussain S.A.M. and Nanjil Manoharan K., both of the DMK, had won.

While issues such as congestion were cited in Chepauk in 2006, the DMK claimed that its efforts in addressing “even minor issues promptly” ensured the party was elected thrice. Cattle menace, poor garbage disposal and encroachment along the market areas were the civic issues that came to the fore in Triplicane during the last elections.

Proximity to the new Secretariat complex has compounded the issue of congestion in both localities, according to residents and traders. They point to pavements being encroached upon, leaving hardly any room for pedestrians.

After the delimitation, congestion seems to top the list of residents' woes. Mr.Anbazhagan, known popularly with the “Pazhakkadai” prefix, also says congestion is the primary concern in the constituency.

“I will regulate the mansions, introduce one-way stretches wherever required and do everything to help ease congestion,” he said.

A recent campaign near the Chintadripet market with actor Vadivelu had residents flocking to the streets. The prevalent feeling among women who gathered at the spot was that “promises were kept.”

The Re.1 rice, the free colour television sets and the Kalaignar Insurance Scheme seem to have made an impact. “The DMK government delivers,” said K. Selvi, a resident of Chintadripet. All the same, there are some sections that are staunch supporters of the AIADMK-led front.

“Price rise is one reason why we will not vote for the DMK. While some things were given free, everything else costs so much. How do we manage?” asked M. Palani, a daily-wage labourer. The AIADMK front has fielded Thameenuin Ansari M. of Manithaneya Makkal Katchi. According to him, Bader Sayeed (AIADMK), sitting MLA in Triplicane, has a very positive image in the constituency.

“After the integration of parts of Triplicane, the number of Muslim voters has gone up. I expect that to work in my favour,” he said. Mr. Ansari said he is confident of winning the support of “fishermen, Dalits, Brahmins and the youth.”

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