Chennai: AIADMK is vigorously campaigning to wrest the DMK citadel of North Chennai constituency, where DMDK and CPI(M) are trying their luck.
While the race is mainly between DMK, which has been winning the seat for successive five terms and the AIADMK, NDA partner DMDK hopes to make inroads this time, riding on the perceived “Modi wave”.
DMDK candidate M Soundara Pandian is seeking votes to bring “all round development sans corruption” under the leadership of Modi at the helm in the Centre.He also pinpoints local issues, including modernising the Kasimedu fishing harbour and promises to “solve all of them” if voted to power.
A trade unioninst and secretary of his party’s trade union wing “Desiya Murpokku Thozhirsanga Peravai”, he hopes that the working class would also vote for him.
Notably, Left parties too have committed voters in this constituency. North Chennai has nurtured mass labour movements and is home to pioneering mobilisation of working classes. CPI(M) nominee Vasuki is in the fray and is campaigning by going door to door and interacting with people on their problems.
The focus of CPI (M)’s campaign is that only a vote for it would bring a meaningful change, both at the Centre and in the lives of the general public as it alone was “committed” to an alternate economic policy to ensure the welfare of working classes. There is no difference in the economic policies of both BJP and Congress, the party says in its rallies.
AIADMK nominee T G Venkatesh Babu promises that he would quickly complete all infrastructure projects, including developing Royapuram railway station into a terminal and make the constituency “pollution-free.”
DMK candidate R Girirajan, a “new face,” is energetically campaigning supported by party workers. The DMK in its rallies largely chooses to target the ruling party and its shortcomings, besides some local issues. Party leader M K Stalin has already campaigned for him in Tiruvottiyur.
Though the political parties make tall claims, there is a general feeling among people of being let down by elected representatives as several problems like congestion and pollution were not solved for decades.
K Krishnan, a social activist in North Chennai says the constituency has been among the much neglected areas over the past several decades. “The much delayed overbridge work in Moolakadai, Vyasarpadi and Korukupet is causing severe hardship to the people.”
Long-time resident of Perambur, G Saravanan said for the common man it was immaterial whether the polls are for electing a government at the Centre or State.
“Projects of immense public utility should be quickly completed. The Centre should allocate more funds for projects like overbridges to ease urban congestion under schemes like Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission [JNNURM].”
Referring to the public outcry in North Chennai for the past many years to upgrade the historic Royapuram railway station into a terminal like Central and Egmore, he said adequate steps had not been taken to address such issues by elected representatives.
“Though DMK nominees were elected for five consecutive terms in North Chennai and despite the fact that they were part of several regimes at the Centre, starting with the Deve Gowda ministry in 1996, they did not even get Royapuram upgraded to a terminal.”
Shutting down or modernising Kodungayur dumpyard to ensure that it did not pollute, long-term initiatives to tackle the serious issue of sea erosion along the coastline are the other key issues in North Chennai.
Modernising operations at the fishing harbour in Kasimedu and bringing basic amenities there is a demand made by both the general public, fishermen and sea food traders.
The constituency has a mix of voters, including working class people, middle and upper middle class in Perambur and Kolathur, fishermen communities in Ennore and Royapuram.
In such a diverse constituency where there are several serious local issues, voters are no wonder divided and parties are trying hard to win their confidence.
The constituency has six assembly segments. While Tiruvottiyur, Dr R K Nagar, Thiru Vi Ka Nagar and Royapuram were won by AIADMK in 2011, its ally in that polls CPI(M) won Perambur seat. The lone Kolathur constituency was won by M K Stalin [DMK] with a narrow margin of less than 3,000 votes.