Tamil Nadu

Tiruvarur goes to the polls under Cyclone Gaja’s shadow

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Byelection comes at a time when relief and rehabilitation work is still under way

Cyclone Gaja, which destroyed the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people in the delta and neighbouring districts, is bound to cast a long shadow over the byelection to the largely agrarian Tiruvarur constituency.

The cyclone’s impact, and the government’s response to it, will be key poll issues as the byelection comes at a time when relief, restoration and rehabilitation efforts are still under way. Sporadic agitations by the affected communities over the pace of relief and restoration efforts are still being reported in the district. Tiruvarur district witnessed a spate of agitations in the aftermath of the cyclone, and this, some officials and Ministers felt, affected relief and restoration work.

The cyclone had caused extensive damage in Thiruthuraipoondi, Muthupet and Kottur blocks in the district as well as in parts of Tiruvarur and Mannargudi blocks. With the model code of conduct coming into effect in the district, a section of farmer-leaders feared that the ongoing relief and restoration work may suffer on account of the bypoll.

Peak agricultural season

“Relief and restoration work has not been completed yet. Power supply has not been restored fully in some interior villages. The byelection process may impact this work. It would have been better if the Election Commission had announced the byelection after the relief and restoration work was completed,” said Mannargudi S. Ranganathan, general secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association. This is also the peak agriculture season, with the samba paddy harvest expected to commence in most parts of the district in the next couple of weeks, he pointed out.

But others hoped that the byelection would spur the government into expediting the relief operations. “We hope that the government would speed up the relief and rehabilitation process in the affected areas as the cyclone is expected to be a major election issue,” observed P.R. Pandian, president, Coordination Committee of All Tamil Nadu Farmers Associations.

An official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the implementation of relief measures would not be affected as the process was already under way. “We don’t think it will affect this process. If necessary, we will seek clarification (from the Election Commission),” the officer said. However, he conceded that rehabilitation projects may be affected.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 11:03:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tiruvarur-goes-to-the-polls-under-cyclone-gajas-shadow/article25875499.ece

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