Puducherry

Fierce poll battle on cards

Congress and AINRC are leaving no stone unturned to win Kamaraj Nagar bypoll

The outcome of Kamaraj Nagar byelection on October 21 may not have any bearing on the arithmetic inside the Puducherry Legislative Assembly. However, the ruling Congress and principal opposition All India N R Congress are leaving no stone unturned to win the by-poll.

The seat had fallen vacant after former Speaker and Congress legislator V. Vaithilingam resigned following his election to Parliament from Puducherry in May.

Leaders of both parties have undertaken campaigning in right earnest in Kamaraj Nagar, which incidentally is the third Assembly constituency where a bypoll has been necessitated since the Congress-DMK alliance came to power in Puducherry in May 2016.

Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, Member of Parliament Mr. Vaithilingam and PCC chief A. Namassivayam have hit the streets for Congress candidate A. John Kumar. The AINRC candidate S. Bouvanesvarane’s campaign is being steered by party founder N. Rangasamy along with leaders of its key allies, AIADMK and BJP.

They have been undertaking day-long door-to-door campaigns across the constituency. Such a strategy was not adopted during the crucial bypoll in Nellithope when Mr. Narayanasamy contested there.

For the Congress, it is a prestigious battle as the seat was represented by Mr. Vaithilingam since its formation in 2008 following delimitation. In the Assembly elections held in 2011 and 2016, Mr .Vaithilingam had defeated his nearest rivals by a margin of more than 5,000 votes. The by-election at the same time is a crucial test for the AINRC after the huge drubbing it received in the Lok Sabha elections and the bypoll in its “safe seat” of Thattanchavady.

The result of Thattanchavady, where DMK candidate K. Venkatesan trounced AINRC nominee Nedounzejiane, was a shocker for the opposition party as the seat was considered a stronghold of Mr. Rangasamy.

Many in the party blamed Mr. Rangasamy for the loss in Thattanchavady as he took the battle very lightly under the impression that it would be a cakewalk. It would be a sweet revenge if the party manages to wrest the Kamaraj Nagar seat from Congress, an AINRC functionary said.

The Congress campaign pitch is on the alleged “non-cooperation of Central government and obstructionist,” agenda of Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi with the tacit support of AINRC. Whereas, the Opposition had been highlighting the alleged “failures and non-performance,” of ruling Congress party.

Also in fray is the candidate of Makkal Munntera Congress (MMC), floated by former MP P. Kannan. He has fielded his close associate K. Vettriselvame. The performance of Mr. Vettriselvame would be critical to the survival of the party and its preparations for the next Assembly elections. The cadre of Naam Tamizhar Katchi is also actively campaigning for its candidate M. Praveena. The constituency, which includes major urban neighbourhoods such as Venketa Nagar, Rainbow Nagar, Krishna Nagar, Kamaraj Nagar, Sithankudi, Jeeva Nagar, Brindavanam and Venketeswara Nagar, has people from different castes and communities. It has good presence of Mudaliyars, Reddiyars, Dalits and Marwari communities.

Though endowed with relatively better infrastructure, the Assembly segment has its own issues. “We still can’t say that the issue of waterlogging during rains has been completely solved. Now, one of the main issues we confront is lack of street lights and ill maintained internal roads,” said S. Ravichandran of Krishna Nagar.

According to Vijayan, a resident of Ganaparakasam Nagar, streetlights often do not get repaired. “The lights will not work during most days. With stray dogs all around it is difficult to walk in the dark,” he added.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 6:33:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/fierce-poll-battle-on-cards/article29694455.ece

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