R. Vimal Kumar

A tight two-cornered battle between AIADMK and DMK

Tuticorin: It looks to be a tight two-cornered electoral battle between S Daniel Raj of AIADMK, a three-time MLA from Srivaikundam constituency, and Geeta Jeevan of DMK, a `relatively fresh face', for the Tuticorin Assembly constituency.

The battle will be to win the hearts of 2,37,665 electors in the segment, of which 1,19,349 are women, who are eager for reforms on the infrastructure front, which has been lacking in the constituency for the past few years.

Though equipped with a state-of-the-art seaport, which is one among the 12 major ports in the country, the constituency did not flourish on economical and industrial fronts during the last few years since the government agencies failed to create adequate infrastructure to `lure' more investment.

The ground level credit flow in the industrial sector has steeply declined since 2002, which could create flutters for the AIADMK candidate in the forthcoming polls. Ground level disbursements by banks in the industrial front stood at around Rs 235 crores in 2004-05 fiscal against Rs 405.9 crores during 2002-03.

Hence, all the parties in the fray will have an uphill task to incorporate strategies in their poll manifesto and propaganda to address the lacunae in the infrastructure, which would have a cascading effect on the industrial potential of the constituency, in the long run.

In its electoral history, Tuticorin constituency has supported Indian National Congress in the 1951, 1957 and 1962 elections, but since 1967 it was ding-dong contests between DMK and AIADMK candidates, who emerged victorious alternatively.

Mr Raj's camp remains optimistic that AIADMK could repeat the victory in 2001, when the party candidate S Rajammal piped two-time-MLA N Periyasami by grabbing a massive 51.40 percent vote share.

However, Mr Raj will have to fight the dissidents in the party, who had already expressed unhappiness over the leadership's choice to select a person who had a history of defections behind him and is a `new comer' to the party, sidelining many veterans in the district.

He defected from Congress to Tamil Manila Congress in the late 90s and finally joined AIADMK only four years ago, after getting elected as Municipal Chairman on a TMC ticket.

"Moreover, he was unable to perennially solve the acute drinking water crisis in the town during the tenure as municipal chairman and failed to maintain good roads."

Geeta Jeevan, who started her political career as Chairperson of District Panchayat (1996-2001) and kept a low profile since then, on her campaign trail was hitting mostly at the "inefficient" municipal regime under Mr Raj.

She promised the electors that steps would be taken to supply potable water to the residents of the constituency at least once in two days, if her party was voted to power.

Though not a formidable enemy, both DMK and AIADMK will have to keep a tab on percentage of votes Peter Raj of Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam will take away from them, which can be crucial in the final countdown to victory.