Adverse impact of GST leaves Virudhunagar bleeding

All industries in the constituency have been affected by the tax; SC banning firecrackers added to woes

March 29, 2019 01:08 am | Updated 01:08 am IST - Madurai

Being part of an arid region, Virudhunagar has witnessed an industrial proliferation in fireworks, matches, printing, power looms and textile sectors. However, all these industries have faced one problem or the other over the past five years, with the adverse impact of GST regime being a common issue.

Consequent to the Supreme Court order banning production of joined crackers and using Barium Nitrate and mandating manufacture of only green crackers, the industry remained closed for over 100 days after Deepavali. Only a few days before the declaration of poll schedule, the industry resumed work, though with a lot of restrictions.

“This is the longest ever closure we faced in the last nine decades,” says a manufacturer. The labour-intensive industry is waiting with crossed fingers over the outcome of experimenting with green crackers.

Key contestants

The key contestants, B. Manickam Tagore, a former MP from the Congress, R. Azhagarsamy of the DMDK and S. Paramasiva Iyyappan of the AMMK, face the challenge of convincing the labour-intensive electorate that they would be able to speak effectively for them in Parliament.

Land acquisition for extending the runway of the Madurai Airport, which comes under the constituency, has been pending for nearly a decade.

Post-delimitation in 2009, Virudhunagar Lok Sabha segment was carved out of the erstwhile Sivakasi constituency that included Kovilpatti (Thoothukudi district), Srivilliputtur and Rajapalayam Assembly constituencies (all Virudhunagar district), excluding the present Aruppukottai Assembly seat.

Sivakasi Parliamentary seat was won by the Swatantra Party (1967), the Congress (1971 & 1977), the AIADMK (1980, 1984, 1989 & 1991), the CPI (1996) and the MDMK (1998, 1999 & 2004).

But after it became the Virudhunagar Lok Sabha seat, the change in the topography also brought in a change in caste equations wherein Mukkulathors now have a dominant say in poll outcome.

Tagore and sitting AIADMK MP T. Radhakrishnan are Mukkulathors.

While the AMMK candidate is also a Mukkulathor, the DMDK candidate belongs to the linguistic minority Telugu Chettiar community.

If a section of the AIADMK’s traditional Mukkulathor vote bank shifts to AMMK, it could affect Mr. Azhagarsamy’s prospects.

The positives for the AIADMK-DMDK-BJP combine is the recent laying of the foundation stone for the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at Thoppur in the constituency and sanctioning work for doubling of railway track between Madurai and Thoothukudi; Vanchi Maniyachi and Nagercoil. However, the ruling parties could face disenchantment of lakhs of fireworks employees.

The sitting MP T. Radhakrishnan is being accused by critics of doing little to champion their cause.

The DMK-Congress front hopes to cash in on the goodwill enjoyed by Mr. Tagore and the personal popularity of Mr. Vaiko, whose MDMK is part of the Secular Progressive Alliance.

AIADMK and DMK had won three Assembly seats each in 2016 in the Virudhunagar Lok Sabha constituency. The intensity of the fight for the Parliamentary seat will be further accentuated by the simultaneous battle to win Sattur Assembly byelection, again a triangular fight.

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