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Aug 17, 2009

More promises for Thondamuthur


The campaign for the by-election to the Thondamuthur Assembly constituency in Coimbatore came to an end on Sunday, after a fortnight of promises that ranged from drinking water supply by lorries to a special economic zone for toddy tapping. Inadequate drinking water and lack of basic amenities are some of the major local issues highlighted during the campaign.

Union Ministers P. Chidambaram, A. Raja and G.K. Vasan, Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi formed a formidable array of Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leaders who campaigned intensively to win over a little more than 3.4 lakh voters in the constituency.Congress candidate M.N. Kandaswamy is pitted against Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate V. Perumal, K. Thangavelu of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), M. Chinnaraj of the Bharatiya Janata Party and E.R. Easwaran of the Kongunadu Munnetra Kazhagam.

Mr. Chidambaram, Mr. Stalin and the other star campaigners for the Congress candidate listed the farm loan waiver by both the Central and State Governments, the free colour television and LPG stove scheme and the health insurance programme for the poor in the State as among the many notable achievements.

The CPI (M) and Communist Party of India went on a joint campaign for the CPI (M) candidate by pointing out that people still reeled under price rise. State secretaries of the parties N. Varadarajan (CPI-M) and D. Pandian (CPI) were the leaders who went around the constituency.Apart from the vote share that it had created for itself in the 2006 Assembly elections, the DMDK canvassed the AIADMK votes also this time, as the latter and its allies were boycotting the by-elections.

A section of the voters even asserted that a sizeable number of AIADMK votes might go to the DMDK. “This is an AIADMK stronghold and this factor can prove decisive,” said T.P. Siva, an erstwhile AIADMK worker who now supported the DMDK.

M. Kannappan, who resigned from the seat on crossing over to the DMK from the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, won from here in 2006 when his party, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, contested as an ally of the AIADMK. S.R. Balasubramoniyan won as the Tamil Maanila Congress candidate in 2001 when his party was an ally of the AIADMK. Mr. Chinnaraj won as the AIADMK candidate in 1980.

A sweep across the State in favour of the DMK saw its candidate win this seat in 1996.Out of 12 Assembly elections since 1951, the AIADMK and its front members had won the Thondamuthur seat six times.The AIADMK individually won the seat four times. The Congress won twice, the DMK thrice.

Areca nut cultivation and processing is a major economic activity in Thondamuthur. The labour shortage was partially been solved with workers coming from Assam for better wages.“But, we want the State Government to remove the Sales Tax at least on the varieties for the local market,” said T.K. Kamarajan, who owned an areca farm and processing unit.

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