Tamil Nadu

Fight for margins in Cuddalore

The DMDK candidate, C.R. Jayasankar, has an onerous task of pulling along the NDA constituents.   | Photo Credit: A_V_Ragunathan

The Cuddalore Parliamentary constituency has virtually become a playground for politicians of all hues and ideologies.

The vestiges of the colonial past are still extant in that Cuddalore is yet to break out of its shell to forge ahead in sufficiently being modernised.

Infrastructure is woefully lacking, the chemical units have polluted the place to an unredeemable level, the Cuddalore Port has remote chance of getting revived, the Gedilam and Then Pennaiyar rivers have turned out to be Cuddalore’s misery, as the surpluses during monsoon ravage farm lands and human habitations. Yet no efforts have been made to harness these rivers.

Unemployment is quite pronounced and the daily wage workers, including farmhands, are leading a hand-to-mouth existence. Technological innovation has hardly made any inroads into agriculture. The issue of contract workmen of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation seeking regularisation often causes industrial unrest. Further, civic problems get aggravated as Cuddalore is often battered by Nature’s fury.

As the Other Backward Classes Vanniyars and Dalits form the dominant communities here, there is an underlying tension on caste lines, which manifests time and again, taking a toll on the peace and tranquillity in the district.

The earlier polarisation of voters, mainly between the leading Dravidian parties — the All India Anna Dravida Munnderta Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) — is no longer visible. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has now become a household name, as it brings together parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Going it alone, sitting Congress MP K.S. Alagiri, this time, is straining every nerve to overcome the stigma stemming from the scams that have beset his party. The AIADMK candidate, A. Arunmozhithevan, projects the welfare schemes of the Jayalalithaa government, banking on her image.

The DMDK candidate, C.R. Jayasankar, has an onerous task of pulling along the NDA constituents, particularly the PMK, whose cadre are yet to reconcile to the fact that the Cuddalore seat, despite hard bargaining, has gone to the DMDK, it’s arch-rival until recently. Jayasankar’s task gets tougher as BJP has only a ‘lean cadre base’ here.

The DMK candidate, K. Nandagopalakrishnan, is also slogging it out, as his party has Dalit outfit Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) as its key ally here. However, a good chunk of VCK’s supporters are also actor-turned DMDK leader Vijayakant’s fans.

The CPI candidate, K. Balasubramanian, a well-known union leader in the government employees’ circle, would be a candidate to watch out. He has a considerable hold among the working classes and with the backing of the Left parties he could garner substantial number of votes. So on the surface it might look like a five-cornered fight here. There would also be erosion of vote banks and considerable amount of cross-voting. For instance, the Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi, led by T. Velmurugan who broke away from the PMK, would take away a section of the Vanniyar votes to the AIADMK. On the other hand, the DMDK might lose a portion of the PMK votes to its rivals.

The electorate seems to be baffled, if not overawed, by the party line-ups. Hence, it would be a close call for all parties as they would find it extremely difficult to keep their traditional vote-bank intact. There is every chance that the about 12.26 lakh votes in this constituency, spread across the six Assembly segments of Thittakudi, Neyveli, Cuddalore, Panruti, Vriddhachalam and Kurinjipadi, would get fragmented, leaving a thin margin to the winning candidate.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2020 7:44:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/loksabha2014/fight-for-margins-in-cuddalore/article5872876.ece

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