By Venkatachari Jagannathan and Fakir Balaji
Chennai/Bengaluru, April 17 (IANS) With all the 38 parliamentary constituencies in Tamil Nadu — after elections in Vellore was withheld — and 14 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka set for the battle of the ballots in the second phase of polling on Thursday, IANS takes a look at the top five constituencies in each state and the issues facing the electorates there.
Tamil Nadu is one of the most urbanised states in the country with a voter base of about 5.9 crore. However, if one looks at the top five Lok Sabha constituencies, the issues faced by the common man remain the same — lack of drinking water supply, water for irrigation, sewage connections, absence of rail connectivity and unemployment, among others.
Though these issues do not strictly fall under the domain of MPs, people do expect them to solve their problems.
* Chennai South
The Chennai South is one of the prestigious Lok Sabha constituencies coveted by all.
The ruling AIADMK has again fielded sitting MP J. Jayavardhan, son of Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar, from here who will face the DMK’s T. Sumathi alias Thamizhachi Thangapandian and Kamal Haasan’s MNM candidate R. Rangarajan, who is a former IAS officer.
The seat was once represented by luminaries such as DMK founder C.N. Annadurai, Union Minister (and later President) R. Venkataraman, actor Vyjayanthimala Bali and T.R. Baalu, among others.
However, the constituency suffers from lack of basic facilities such as drinking water and proper sewerage connections, among other things.
Comprising six Assembly seats — Virugambakkam, Saidapet, T. Nagar, Mylapore, Velachery and Sholinganallur — Chennai South has a total electorate of 19.73 lakh, where women voters at 9.93 lakh are ahead of male voters at 9.79 lakh. There are also 389 third gender voters.
“The main sewerage lines are blocked and as a result, the sewage backs into our homes. It is a big health hazard,” Ganesan, a resident of the area, told IANS.
In the Chennai Central constituency, water is a major problem and PMK candidate S.R. Sam Paul said he would work to solve it by urging the government to build a new reservoir and also by linking rivers.
Paul is up against DMK strongman Dayanidhi Maran, who had won twice from the constituency in 2004 and 2009. The MNM has fielded Kameela Nassar from this crucial Lok Sabha seat. In 2014, the seat was won by S.R. Vijayakumar of the AIADMK.
With the hot summer approaching and the lakes supplying water to the population going dry, dog days are ahead for the people of Chennai city.
The battle for Thoothukudi is what many are looking forward to in the current Lok Sabha polls where Tamil Nadu BJP President Tamilisai Soundararajan is crossing swords with DMK leader and Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi.
The seat was won by AIADMK’s Jeyasingh Thiyagaraj Natterjee in 2014.
“Every segment in the constituency has unsorted issues. In the case of the fishermen, there are no roads to their place of dwellings and there is also lack of safety gear for safe fishing,” T.P.S. Ponkumaran, the MNM candidate from Thoothukudi, told IANS.
“In the case of small traders, exporters and importers, complying with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) provisions and getting refund is a major issue,” Ponkumaran added.
Social activist M. Pushparayan told IANS: “In Thoothukudi, the major issue is the Sterlite Copper, the copper smelter plant of Vedanta Ltd.”
Last May, 13 anti-Sterlite Copper protestors were killed in police firing and the issue is now boiling in favour of Kanimozhi.
Interestingly, the Sterlite Copper issue may fetch votes for the BJP as well, as there are people who have lost their jobs and business because of the smelter plant’s closure.
In Thoothukudi town, people are angry with the AIADMK government for not handling the anti-Sterlite protests properly.
The southern tip of Tamil Nadu, Kanyakumari is a pilgrimage as well as tourist destination. The constituency has good number of fishermen. The major issue faced by the fishing community is the proposed port project as they fear it would affect their livelihood.
The people also face the problem of drinking water shortage, lack of jobs and poor liquidity.
AIADMK has fielded Laxman from the constituency who will lock horns with sitting MP Pon Radhakrishnan of the BJP and H. Vasanthakumar of the Congress.
Theni is one of Tamil Nadu’s most picturesque constituencies. The main battle here is between E.V.K.S. Elangovan of the Congress, AIADMK’s Raveendranath Kumar and S. Radhakrishnan of the MNM. In 2014, AIADMK’s R. Parthipan won from Theni.
“The issues placed before the people by me are mainly related to drinking water and irrigation, banning the neutrino project and rail connectivity, among others,” Radhakrishan told IANS.
Radhakrishnan also said he would fight to increase the water storage level of the Mullaperiyar Dam to 152 feet which would solve the water problem in the constituency.
The other water related issue here is desilting of the Vaigai Dam to improve its storage capacity. On his part, Raveendranath Kumar, son of AIADMK Coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, has promised broad gauge rail link between Madurai and Bodi.
In the battle of ballot at the hustings, the ally of ruling Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and Congress face tough fight with the BJP in five of the 14 Lok Sabha seats going to the polls in the state on Thursday.
With the allies fielding joint candidates under their pre-poll seat-sharing arrangement, the Congress is contesting in 10 seats and JD-S in four against 13 candidates of the BJP.
The top five seats are Bangalore South, Bangalore North, Mandya, Hassan and Tumkur, as their outcome may have a bearing on the survival of the 10-month-old fledgling JD-S-Congress coalition government in the southern state.
Of the five seats, JD-S is contesting three, with its supremo H.D. Deve Gowda from Tumkur and his two grandsons — Prajwal and Nikhil — from Hassan and Mandya, respectively, which are the traditional bastions of the party over the past three decades.
In the three Bangalore parliamentary seats, the Congress is pulling all stops to wrest them from the BJP, which has retained them since the 2004 general elections.
The JD-S has high stakes in this constituency where Nikhil Gowda is up against multi-lingual South Indian actress Sumalatha Ambareesh as an Independent, supported by the BJP. L.R. Shivarame Gowda of the JD-S had won the by-election from here in 2018.
The son of state Chief Minister H.D Kumaraswamy, Nikhil’s (28) contest against Sumalatha is being billed as the “mother of all battles.” Sumalatha (55) is also backed by the Kannada film industry, led by its superstars Yash and Darshan, and thousands of fans of late rebel star Ambareesh, who hailed from Mandya and represented the seat in the Lok Sabha thrice, twice as Congress member and once as JD-S member.
Though the JD-S won from all the eight assembly segments in the Mandya parliamentary constituency in the May 2018 state assembly polls, the electorates face a Hobson’s choice as both the main contestants belong to the politically dominant Vokkaliga community, which has a large presence in the old Mysore region.
Prajwal Gowda faces a tough contest in Hassan despite it being a bastion of the Gowda clan, as the party’s committed voters are miffed with the 86-year-old Deve Gowda for shifting to Tumkur to make way for his grandson Prajwal.
Prajwal (29), the son of state PWD Minister H.D. Revanna, is up against BJP’s A. Manju, a former Congress Minister who lost to Deve Gowda in the 2014 general elections.
Though the leaders of the JD-S-Congress formed a post-poll alliance to form the coalition government in May 2018, ostensibly to keep the BJP out of power, there is no bonhomie between their cadres at the grassroot level to campaign for their joint candidates.
The bitter rivalry of three decades between the allies may work in favour of the BJP in Hassan.
In this key constituency, Deve Gowda faces G.S. Basavaraju of the BJP, who is also a strong face of the powerful Lingayat community which equally dominates the constituency.
In 2014, S.P. Muddahanumegowda of the COngress had won the seat, beating BJP’s G.S. Basavaraj.
* Bangalore North
In this prestigious constituency, BJP’s Union Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda is locked in a straight contest with Krishna Byre Gowda, a Congress Minister in the state. With both the candidates being Vokkaligas, votes of other communities will decide their fate.
Union Minister for State Sadananda Gowda had won from here in 2014, defeating C. Narayanaswamy of the Congress. Of the 16 elections held in this constituency so far, the most successful party is the Congress which has won on 12 occasions from here.
* Bangalore South
In this high-profile seat, which has thousands of techies, youth and millennials as voters, the contest is between BJP’s young turk Tejasvi Surya, a 28-year-old high court lawyer and a member of the RSS, and Congress veteran and Rajya Sabha member B.K. Hariprasad, who has been living longer in Delhi than in the city or the state.
The sudden demise of Union Minister N.H. Ananth Kumar, who won six times from the seat since 1996, has created sympathy for the BJP although it did not field Kumar’s widow Tejaswani.
The BJP is betting on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ‘achievements’ of the NDA government to retain both the seats in Bengaluru.