Lok Sabha polls | Virudhunagar: where star candidates are in a tough fight against two-time MP

The entry of actor and producer Radikaa Sarathkumar of the BJP, and late actor Vijayakant’s son V. Vijayaprabhakaran of the DMDK has put the spotlight on this constituency; they are hoping to wrest the seat from B. Manickam Tagore of the Congress, who seeks a re-election from here

April 05, 2024 12:44 am | Updated 11:57 am IST

Representational image. File

Representational image. File | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

Virudhunagar, known for producing one of the tallest political sons of Tamil Nadu K. Kamaraj, is a rain-shadow region. Politically and geographically, the Virudhunagar Lok Sabha constituency is usually overshadowed by neighbouring Madurai.

However, this Lok Sabha election, the entry of two candidates – actor and producer Radikaa Sarathkumar of the BJP; and a young V. Vijayaprabhakaran of the DMDK, who is the son of late actor Vijayakant, has put the spotlight on this place eclipsing Madurai.

The candidates have been campaigning intensely, hoping to wrest the seat from the two-time Congress MP B. Manickam Tagore, who is seeking a re-election from here. Another candidate who is trying his luck here is S. Kaushik of the NTK.

The constituency had returned Mr. Tagore, who had contested as part of the DMK-led alliance, in 2009 and 2019. The electorate here voted for AIADMK’s T. Radhakrishnan in 2014. This Lok Sabha constituency comprises Assembly segments of Virudhunagar, Sivakasi, Sattur and Aruppukottai (in Virudhunagar district) and Tirumangalam and Tirupparankundram (in Madurai district). The outcomes of elections here have been predominantly determined by the two Assembly segments in Madurai district, which cumulatively make up for 40% of the votes here. The majority of voters belong to the Mukkulathor community, particularly in the Tirupparankundram and Tirumangalam.

While the DMK, the Congress, the MDMK and the Left parties have a presence across the constituency, the AIADMK’s second line leader K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji says that the AIADMK and the DMK had formed “a formidable and a lucky” alliance respectively.

Ms. Radikaa has been attracting women voters. The BJP cadre believe that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign, scheduled here later this month, would be a fillip for the party. Mr. Tagore looks to address joblessness and inflation, while Ms. Radikaa says that the Modi government had brought back the “Kamaraj rule in the country”. NTK leader Seeman had campaigned for Dr. Kaushik, a young medical professional.

Even as the BJP and the AIADMK claim credit for setting up the Government Medical College in Virudhunagar, the DMK alliance continues to harp on the failure of the Centre in establishing the AIIMS Madurai. The BJP can, however, take credit for completing the Madurai-Thoothukudi/Tirunelveli railway double line project. However, freezing of work to lay the new railway line between Madurai and Thoothukudi via Aruppukottai will put the party on the back foot.

Except for the Madurai-Singapore international flight service, the Madurai Airport has not seen any big development in the last 10 years. Announcement on making Madurai Airport operational 24 hours a day and seven days a week was stopped on the ground that there were inadequate number of CISF personnel.

Industrial units

The constituency consists of various industrial units, ranging from fireworks, printing, and powerlooms. Mr. Tagore has been complaining that wrong economic policies of the Centre had ruined the fireworks industry, and its immense export potential.

“During the UPA government, we initiated the process of bringing mother vessel to Thoothukudi port so that fireworks products could be exported. But, the NDA government had not done anything in the last 10 years,” he added.

The industry is also finding it difficult to give employment opportunities to big workforce due to ban on using Barium Nitrate.

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