Chennai, April 17 (IANS) Once represented by luminaries such as DMK founder C.N. Annadurai, Union Minister (and later President) R. Venkataraman and actor Vyjayanthimala Bali, Chennai South is among Tamil Nadu’s most prestigious Lok Sabha constituency and appears set for another triangular contest like in the previous two elections.
Coming into existence in 1957 as Madras South, the seat was either represented by the Congress and the DMK till 1991, when the AIADMK won it for the first time. Won by the DMK’s T.R. Baalu in the next four elections, it was wrested back by the AIADMK in 2009 and is with it since then.
The state’s ruling party, which is aiming for a hat-trick, has again fielded sitting member J.Jayavardhan, son of Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar. This time, he faces the DMK’s T. Sumathi alias Thamizhachi Thangapandian and Kamal Haasan’s MNM candidate R. Rangarajan, who is a former IAS officer, and 37 others.
Comprising six assembly seats – Virugambakkam, Saidapet, T. Nagar, Mylapore, Velachery and Sholinganallur, Chennai South has a total electorate of 19.73 lakh, where women votes at 9.93 lakh are ahead of male voters (9.79 lakh). There are also 389 third gender voters.
Consisting of old residential localities and newer ones like Sholinganallur where a large number of software companies are located, South Chennai also has a sizeable number of slum dwellers and fishing community, the prime target for political parties.
The prestigious seat coveted by all parties, however suffers from lack of basic facilities such as drinking water, and proper sewerage connections.
“The main sewerage lines are blocked and as a result, the sewage backs into our homes. It is a big health hazard,” resident Ganesan told IANS.
MNM candidate Rangarajan told IANS that it was telling that “70 years after Independence, we still talk about drinking water problems, sewage and drainage systems”.
A qualified Chartered and Cost Accountant, the 40-year-old Rangarajan who was an Assam cadre IAS officer before quitting, now runs an academy here to train civil service aspirants in the city.
In the 2014 elections AIADMK’s Jayavardhan secured 434,540 votes defeated DMK’s T.K.S. Elangovan (298,965 votes) by a margin of 135,575 votes.
The BJP and the Congress which were also in the race separately had polled 258,262 and 24,276 votes respectively.
The BJP is now part of the AIADMK-led alliance while Congress is part of the DMK-led alliance.
In 2014, the AIADMK, then led by J. Jayalalithaa, swept 37 out of the state’s 39 Lok Sabha seats despite a nationwide wave in favour of the BJP.
But now, Jayalalithaa is not alive and there is anti-incumbency factor weighing against the AIADMK, while the BJP also facing headwinds.