Lok Sabha 2014

Pollachi in a churn

Unfinished irrigation schemes under the Parambikulam-Aliyar Projectaffecting agriculture is a key issue that voters are concerned aboutin Pollachi.

A traditional stronghold of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam since it wrested the seat from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in 1977, and marked by alternating fortunes in more recent years when the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam won it twice, Pollachi now seems to be at the crossroads. The stakes seem to have increased with the emergence of the Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi (KMDK) and the Congress too staking its claim.

Unfinished irrigation schemes under the Parambikulam-Aliyar Project (PAP) affecting agriculture and the State’s failure to provide sops for tapping the potential in the coir industry are the key issues that voters in this western belt of the State continue to bitterly complain about. The issues also resonate in candidates’ campaign speeches.

With a strong agricultural base, the major crop – coconut, and coir-related industries have considerable employment potential. But this has not been tapped effectively. Further, Valparai, an Assembly segment of the seat with lots of plantation estates and horticulture, is plagued by man-animal conflicts. The other Assembly segments include Thondamuthur, Kinathukadavu, Pollachi, Udumalpet and Madathukulam.

This time, in a multi-cornered contest, C. Mahendran of the AIADMK, former Minister and party district secretary Pongalur N. Palanisamy of the DMK, E.R. Easwaran of the KMDK as part of the Bharatiya Janata Party alliance, and former MLA K. Selvaraj of the Congress are the main candidates in the race. While the ‘People’s Movement of India’ has fielded T. Srinivasan, Mr. Mahendran is a first-timer in the big battle.

Sitting MP denied ticket

The AIADMK denied ticket to its sitting MP K. Sugumar, whose record in Parliament was impressive, including participation in 40 debates in the 15th Lok Sabha. But a ‘sting operation’ purportedly showing the MP taking cash for a recommendation letter in Delhi, is said to be the reason for the leadership denying him ticket.

For Mr. Palanisamy, it is a maiden contest in the general election In the case of Mr. Easwaran, he contested from Coimbatore in 2009 and also in two Assembly elections from Thondamuthur and Sulur.

Drought relief for coconut growers and those cultivating other crops is yet to reach many. The Central government should ensure that Kerala and Tamil Nadu expedite the yet-to-be completed projects under the PAP, says Thirumurthy Irrigation Project Committee chairman, ‘Medical’ K. Paramasivam.

The woes of coconut growers continue to haunt this rural constituency.

Of the 100 acres sought for the setting up a Coconut Research Centre and Hybrid Nursery, only 82 acres has been given near the Thirumurthy dam, laments T. A. Krishnasamy Gounder, president of the South Indian Coconut Growers’ Association. He wants offices of the Coconut and Coir Boards set up either in Pollachi or Coimbatore.

Pollachi, which got back its ‘general constituency’ status in 2009, has several communities, with the dominant group being Gounders, followed by Dalits, ‘24 Manai Telugu Chettiars’ and Naickers. All nominees of the DMK, AIADMK and KMDK are from the dominant community and it remains to be seen how each shares the common community votes. The Valparai segment alone has a more diverse social mix. Surely, the Kongu factor is to be reckoned with by the main contenders as even in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, ‘Best’ S. Ramaswamy of another Kongu outfit — ‘Kongu Naadu Munnetra Kazhagam’ — polled 1.03 lakh, roughly one-tenth of the total electorate then.

The construction of dams across the Anamalaiaru and Nallaru and commissioning of the same by getting Kerala’s commitment to complete the Idamalaiaru dam, to help increase the water yield under the PAP for irrigation of four lakh acres, is a promise made by both the AIADMK and the DMK.

Four-laning of the Dindigul-Sathyamangalam highway, gauge conversion of the Dindigul-Pollachi-Palakkad line and Pollachi-Podanur section and train services from Pollachi to Chennai, besides promotion of tourism in Valparai to give a fillip to the economy are also high on the candidates’ agenda. Yet, the battle for Pollachi is far from being a two-legged race between the DMK and the AIADMK — the KMDK, as part of the BJP-front, is expected to give the other contestants a run for their money.

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Printable version | May 9, 2022 11:35:58 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/loksabha2014//article60396807.ece