A high-stakes contest likely in Thoothukudi

Tamilisai Soundararajan

Tamilisai Soundararajan  

Anti-incumbency, factionalism may be detrimental to ruling party alliance

The contest for Thoothukudi Lok Sabha seat is likely to be intense, if the frequent visits of DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi and BJP State president Tamilisai Soundararajan are any indication.

Ms. Kanimozhi, for whom a formal announcement is yet to come, has completed most of the groundwork already. She has undertaken various development projects using funds from the MP Local Area Development Scheme in the district; conducted gram sabha meetings and a job fair, in which around 2,000 youth got employment. Earlier, she had also adopted a village, Venkatesapuram in Sattankulam taluk, where she has spent ₹1.06 crore so far for various development projects.

DMK MP Kanimozhi

DMK MP Kanimozhi  


In the event of Ms. Tamilisai getting nominated as candidate for Thoothukudi, the BJP will have to surmount a number of challenges, the foremost of them being an anti-incumbent sentiment. The death of 13 persons during the anti-Sterlite protest is still a burning issue.

Another issue would be the factionalism in the AIADMK. Recently, the AIADMK’s district unit was split as North and South districts. While Minister Kadambur C. Raju was made the district secretary of Thoothukudi North, the south district unit has been handed over to MLA S.P. Shanmuganathan, who is known to be at loggerheads with the Minister. This was seen as a tough balancing act by the party top brass to appease both sides ahead of the election.

Former district secretary S.T. Chellapandian and incumbent MP Jeyasingh Thiyagaraj Natterjee, among others, have also expressed their interest to contest on behalf of the AIADMK.

After the constituency was carved out following delimitation, the DMK and AIADMK have won once in 2009 and 2014 respectively. The AIADMK had won with a margin of 1.24 lakh votes in the 2014 general election.

In the 2016 Assembly election, however, in three of four constituencies in the district, AIADMK candidates won by wafer-thin margin – Mr. Raju by 428 votes, R. Sundararaj by 493 votes in Ottapidaram, which is now vacant, and S.P. Shanmuganathan by 3,531 votes. The other two constituencies in the district were grabbed by the DMK. Vilathikulam constituency, which was won by K. Uma Maheswari, is also now vacant.

Mr. Natterjee told The Hindu that he had raised a number of issues like shifting of Thoothukudi railway station to Meelavittan and the need for a Kendriya Vidyalaya inParliament. The public have been seeking shifting of the railway station to prevent traffic snarls at the railway gates that are located in the heart of the city.

A. Varatharajan, president of Karisal Bhoomi Farmers’ Association, says no development has been witnessed at Nagalapuram, the village adopted by the MP. Government Arts College in the area is in need of development and houses in Samathuvapuram are in disrepair. “We want the area along Vaippar river to be declared a protected area to prevent sand mining under the guise of lifting savadu soil,” he says.

Salt pan workers have been seeking compensation during the lean period, a poll promise by various parties, which is yet to be fulfilled.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 7:41:17 PM |

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