Constituency watch| DMK to lock horns with AIADMK in Erode

Of the total 31 contestants, K.E. Prakash of DMK and Ashok Kumar of AIADMK will have a direct battle. Also in the fray are Tamil Maanila Congress candidate P. Vijayakumar and Naam Tamilar Katchi candidate M. Karmegam

April 07, 2024 08:22 pm | Updated 08:22 pm IST - ERODE

Farming, textiles, turmeric and industrial activities are the broadest sectors that keep the economy vibrant in the Erode Parliamentary Constituency that is all set to witness a close contest between the two major Dravidian parties — the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

The Assembly constituencies of Erode and Modakkurichi were part of the Tiruchengodu Parliamentary Constituency from 1967 to 2008, and the Erode Parliamentary Constituency was formed after the delimitation exercise of 2009.

Erode is the second largest turmeric market in the country, after Nizamabad in Telangana, and farmers are demanding a cold storage facility for turmeric.

Senganthal flower (Gloriosa superba), the state flower of Tamil Nadu, is grown widely in Dharapuram and minimum support price for the flower is a long-pending demand of the farmers.

Discharge of effluents into River Cauvery

Discharge of effluents into River Cauvery and Kalingarayan Canal by the textile units functioning in Erode, Pallipalayam and Kumarapalayam remains a concern for people as the proposal to establish common effluent treatment plants remains only on paper since 2014.

Demand for making value-added products from drumsticks, poor price for coconut, diversion of water from Pandiyaru to Moyar, and new railway line between Erode and Palani through Dharapuram are the other demands.

LBP canal modernisation project

Stalemate in executing the Lower Bhavani Project (LBP) canal modernisation project continues as one section of farmers support the project while the other oppose it. Also, water from Parambikulam Aliyar Project (PAP) canal not reaching tail-end farmers is a major concern.

The Kongu Vellalar Gounder community is a dominant force in the constituency while members of other intermediate castes, minorities and Scheduled Castes are present in substantial numbers. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, MDMK’s A. Ganeshamurthi defeated E.V.K.S. Elangovan, present Erode (East) MLA and grandnephew of ‘Periyar’ E. V. Ramasamy. In the 2014 elections, AIADMK’s Selvakumara Chinnayan defeated Mr. Ganeshamurthi while DMK’s Pavithravalli was pushed to third. In 2019, Mr. Ganeshamurthi defeated G. Manimaran of AIADMK.

31 candidates in the fray

Of the total 31 contestants, K.E. Prakash of DMK and Ashok Kumar of AIADMK will have a direct battle, while Tamil Maanila Congress candidate P. Vijayakumar and Naam Tamilar Katchi candidate M. Karmegam are also in the fray. Mr. Prakash, with the support of DMK Ministers, banks on the achievements of the DMK government in the last three years during his campaigns. Though he is a new face to the voters, he joined the party at the age of 14 and currently is the deputy secretary of DMK’s youth wing and is well-known among the functionaries and cadre.

Mr. Ashok Kumar, one of the richest politicians contesting in the election, with assets worth ₹583 crore, is not a new face to the people, particularly among the downtrodden and the rural people. He is known for his extensive social service, including renovation of government schools and temples. He is also serving the people in the constituency through his Aatral Foundation that provides a meal at ₹ 10 and offers doctor’s consultation at ₹ 10. His mother K.S. Soundaram is a former MP, while his mother-in-law C. Saraswati is a sitting MLA. He was with the BJP and joined the AIADMK in November 2023.

Mr. Ashok Kumar, who runs many educational institutions, started his campaign two years ago by reaching out to voters by wishing them for birthdays and festivals through recorded audio. Concern prevails among party functionaries as his day-to-day campaigns and political activities are managed by a professional team and partymen are kept in the dark. “He joined the party four months ago and is a candidate now because he has money,” fumes an AIADMK cadre.

While the battle is between the DMK and the AIADMK, Tamil Maanila Congress candidate P. Vijayakumar is also leaving no stone unturned in reaching out to voters. Backed by the support of BJP functionaries and cadre, he reaches out to the people highlighting the achievements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last 10 years.

M. Karmegam of Naam Tamilar Katchi is a retired government doctor and a new entrant to politics.

The constituency is made up of a corporation, five municipalities, 24 town panchayats and 149 village panchayats. With three DMK Ministers — S. Muthusamy in Erode, N. Kayalvizhi in Dharapuram and M.P. Saminathan in Kangayam — are pushing up campaigns in reaching out to voters, the DMK has an edge over the AIADMK in a hard-fought battle.

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