Medical college, main issue in Karaikudi

C. Jaishankar

Tough fight is between Congress and AIADMK

Karaikudi: The elections for the Karaikudi constituency will see a tough fight between the Congress candidate, N. Sundaram, and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate, O.L. Sellaiah.

The past election scenario in the constituency shows that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has an upper hand over its main rival, the AIADMK.

Though the DMK has won just two times since 1977, the DMK-supported candidates of the then Tamil Manila Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party won the seat in the 1996 and 2001 elections respectively.

Mr. Sundaram won the elections held in 1996 as a TMC nominee. H. Raja of the BJP with the alliance of the DMK defeated the TMC candidate SP. Udayappan by a slender margin in 2001. However, the sitting MLA Mr. Raja opted to stay away from the fray this time.

Though there is no star value attached to the candidates of the AIADMK and the Congress, the elections for the Karaikudi constituency are being keenly watched, as the Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, hails from this area.

Moreover, Mr. Sundaram is considered an ardent supporter of Mr. Chidambaram.

Expectedly, he is concentrating on sending Democratic Progressive Alliance candidates to the Assembly.

He has addressed workers' and public meetings to canvass votes in support of the DPA candidates throughout the district. The strength of the DMK, Congress and other alliance parties is considered as Mr. Sundaram's positive factors.

Mr. Sellaiah is a familiar figure in Sakkottai and Kallal blocks. He is banking on the party's strength, the rural mass and the popularity of the `two leaves' symbol.

The Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, has campaigned for him.

The presence of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the support of the actor Rajini' fans are expected to play a subtle role in favour of the AIADMK candidate.

The long pending demand of establishing a medical college has come as a focal issue for the Karaikudi constituency. Though the town has a score of educational institutions, including Alagappa University, government-aided and private engineering and arts colleges, there has been no constructive move from any political party to establish a medical college in Karaikudi or nearby areas.

The expectations from the people are that Karaikudi will become an educational hub in the southern districts such as Ramanathapuram, Virudhunagar, Sivaganga and Pudukottai districts, if a medical college is established.

The voters are unhappy that candidates, who won the elections in the past, never come out with clear proposals or collective efforts to establish a medical college here.

Another problem in Karaikudi and its surrounding areas is poor road condition at many points, including NH 210 and State Highways.

This troubles not only the people, passengers, and drivers but also tourists, who are coming to Chettinad to see palatial bungalows.

The BJP, DMDK and some smaller parties have also fielded their candidates in the constituency.

However, the main fight is between the AIADMK and the Congress. The constituency has 2,03,645 voters.

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