Tamil Nadu

No smooth ride for anyone in Arani

Drought-hit agriculture, power cut-affected sectors like weaving and rice mills, the caste factor and shifting loyalties of partners of political alliances in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls make the electoral battle unpredictable in the Arani constituency.

Polur, Vandavasi, Arani and Cheyyar Assembly segments from Tiruvannamalai district, and Gingee and Mayilam Assembly segments from Villupuram district form this Lok Sabha constituency.

Though agriculture is the main livelihood, weaving is the second major occupation in the four Assembly segments that fall in Tiruvannamalai district. Kalambur is a key rice mill hub. The Arani segment is famous for exquisite, hand-woven silk saris.

However, all these occupations are virtually in shambles for various reasons. Thousands of power looms and modern rice mills are rendered motionless during long hours of power cut. There is a misconception that handlooms do not require electricity. Weavers need a light on their looms to have visibility while weaving. Hence, the power cut does not spare even the handloom sector.

The drought-affected farm sector has not been compensated either, and all these factors could go against the AIADMK here.

On the political front, AIADMK candidate V. Elumalai and Tiruvannamalai North district secretary and Information Technology Minister Mukkur N. Subramanian count on their personal goodwill and the Jayalalithaa regime’s freebies. On the other hand, DMK candidate R. Sivanandam, a two-time MLA and party senior, has to sail against the currents of discontent.

The former Minister of State for Railways, A.K. Moorthy, contesting on PMK ticket, started his campaign even before the elections were announced and the BJP alliance was finalised. Congress candidate M.K. Vishnuprasad is the son of the sitting MP from Arani and former TNCC chief, M. Krishnaswamy. He was also elected to the Assembly once from Cheyyar.

Since all the four main contestants are from the dominant OBC ‘Vanniyar’ community, consolidation of caste votes for the PMK might not be total. Especially, Mr. Vishnuprasad, who is also the brother-in-law of PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss, could equally share the ‘Vanniyar’ caste loyalty with Mr. Moorthy, along with the others. But the fact that Arani is now represented in the Assembly by R.M. Babu Murugavel, a DMDK man, may be small comfort for the PMK.

Further, the latest defection of senior DMK leader Gingee N. Ramachandran to the AIADMK, closer to polling day, adds to the DMK’s woes in the Gingee and Mayilam Assembly segments.

The Left parties here are backing an Independent, S. Senthilnathan, publisher and journalist.

Also, Mr. Krishnaswamy could neither ensure the starting of the Tindivanam-Nagari rail link project or a textile park for Arani, a negative fallout that his son would now have to contend with. These overlapping factors make the multi-cornered contest tenuous and not amenable to any formulaic reading.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 5:44:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/no-smooth-ride-for-anyone-in-arani/article5929277.ece

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