DMK veteran Nehru takes on AIADMK’s new face

TIRUCHI, 16/02/2014: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's (DMK) Tiruchi district secretary K.N. Nehru. File   | Photo Credit: M. VEDHAN

Contesting his fifth straight elections from the Tiruchi West constituency, former Minister and DMK’s principal secretary, K.N.Nehru, is seemingly on a comfort zone as the ruling party has pitted a new face, V.Padmanathan, making his debut in big time electoral politics.

But electors in his predominantly urban constituency, who account for a little over one-fourth of the city’s population of about 10 lakhs, have reason to feel frustrated on the development front.

For many residents, nothing symbolises better the apathy of elected representatives than the unfinished multi-level road over bridge near the Railway Junction. The project came to a halt after several crores of rupees was spent on it owing to the delay in getting just 67 cents of Defence land to complete the first stage of project.

Construction of the ROB remains suspended for more than two years now after 90% of the project was completed with just the final approach road to the Chennai arm of the bridge still to be built. This is the first stage of the multi-level bridge which commenced in 2014 and was scheduled to be completed by February 2017.

Anguished residents blame the absence of a strong political will for the stalemate. “It shows the lack of interest of the elected representatives. Ideally, the project should have been taken up after getting the Defence land. But so much of money has already been invested. Who will bear the increase in the cost of construction now?” wonders H.Ghouse Baig, a consumer activist.

Narrow roads and traffic congestion, including in and around the Central Bus Stand, remain a major concern. Cramped for space, the Central Bus Stand has been perennially gridlocked while a proposal to establish an integrated bus stand remains mired in political wrangling and blame game.

The pollution caused to the city stretch of the Uyyakondan canal has been a worry for conservationists and residents as well. Many extension areas such as Karumandapam lack underground drainage, storm water drains and roads. The rapid urbanisation and the burgeoning population density along Vayalur Road have left the narrow road bursting at the seams. “Given the exponential increase in the volume of traffic, there is an urgent need to widen the road,” observes V.Sundararaju, a retired government officer residing at Srinivasa Nagar South.

With development issues being the key plank, Mr.Nehru is on familiar turf and is well aware of the problems. He blames the AIADMK for the stalemate in development in the constituency.

A realtor turned full-time politician, Mr.Padmanathan, seem to have done his homework and accuses Mr.Nehru of failing to address the basic needs of the people in the constituency over the past five years as an MLA. He promises to strive for establishment of an integrated bus stand and relieve the traffic congestion. The DMK has won the constituency seven times since the 1967 elections while the AIADMK has emerged victorious on six occasions. Prior to 1967, the Communist stalwart, M.Kalyanasundaram had been a three-time MLA from the constituency.

Mr.Nehru won from here after shifting from his native Lalgudi in 2006, but lost two subsequent elections in 2011, including the by-election held after the demise of N.Mariam Pitchai of the AIADMK that year. In 2016, he overcame what was supposed to be a stiff challenge from R.Manoharan, the then Government Chief Whip, rather comfortably and is confident of bettering his record.

But Mr. Padmanathan dismisses the impression that he is up against a political heavyweight in the constituency. “He (Mr.Nehru) is no tiger; he is just like any other candidate. I have people’s support and will win,” he asserts.

M.Abubacker Siddiq of Makkal Needhi Maiam and V.Vinoth of Naam Tamizhar Katchi are also in the fray in a field of 13 contestants.

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 4:06:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/tiruchi-west/article34153666.ece

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