The Sriperumpudur Lok Sabha constituency, which has blended urbanisation and industrial development in recent years to shed its image of being a mainly rural area dotted with semi-urban localities and industrial parks, is poised for an interesting contest between the two major Dravidian parties that have played a positive role in this transformation.
This constituency, where Assembly segments sited on the eastern half are becoming prime residential areas and the land mass in the western half serves as a fertile ground for industrial and commercial activities, has remained with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam ever since the party wrested it from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in 1999.
It consists of the Assembly segments of Sriperumpudur, Tambaram, Pallavaram and Alandur in Kancheepuram district and Maduravoyal and Ambattur in Tiruvallur district.
This time, the change in alliances is likely to influence the outcome. While the formidable alliance strength which the DMK enjoyed till the last elections is not there, the AIADMK continues to rely on its own vote bank.
The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which has fielded R. Masilamani, is hoping to stay afloat in the competition with the help of its allies Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam and Bharatiya Janata Party. The Congress has jumped into the fray all alone.
However, as electioneering enters the final phase, the contest seems to have boiled down to the one between the DMK nominee and sitting Arakonam MP, S. Jagathrakshakan, and AIADMK candidate K.N. Ramachandran, going by the vigour with which they are touring the constituency.
Important issues such as the impact of the Archaeological Survey of India’s regulations on certain wards of the Pallavapuram municipality, and that of the Special Economic Zone on the basic rights of workers have taken a backseat as the contestants project the leadership issue at the Centre.
Pallavapuram residents, who had rallied to protest the recent amendments to the ASI regulations, dropped their plan for a poll boycott after obtaining an assurance from the candidates and their representatives that the issue would be resolved after the elections.
In the Maduravoyal Assembly segment, completion of the Chennai Port-Maduravoyal elevated corridor and improvements to the Koyambedu wholesale market are the main demands, says B. Varadarajan, president of the Maduravoyal Federation of Welfare Associations.
Arguing that the incomplete corridor, with just pillars stuck on the middle of the Poonamallee High Road, has left many disappointed, he says the area is in dire need of a drainage network and proper drinking water supply, apart from a post office.
At Ambattur, residents want the elected representative to take up with the Railway Board the long-pending demands: a subway near the railway station and a new rail link to Sriperumpudur, branching off to the south at nearby Avadi, says R. Mohan, president of the Uzhaippor Urimai Iyakkam, Ambattur.
In Sriperumpudur town, a new rule enforced by the previous government to ban construction of high-rise buildings within a 300-metre radius of the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial prevents the town from becoming a major residential hub, driven by the industrialisation in the region, says S. Ravi, a real-estate promoter.
( With additional reporting by T. Madhavan and K. Lakshmi ).