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செவ்வாய், ஏப்ரல் 12, 2011

A lesser known seat jumps into limelight

Cuddalore: 

         The Rishivandhiyam Assembly constituency has aroused a lot of curiosity among psephologists and people who are posing two questions: Will actor-turned-politician and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam leader Vijayakant win the seat? Or will S.Sivaraj, four-time Congress MLA, retain the seat?

          But for Mr. Vijayakant's option to contest the seat, Rishivandhiyam would have remained one of the also-ran constituencies. The question dominant in the minds of the electorate is why Mr. Vijayakant has shifted from Vriddhachalam and settled for far-flung Rishivandhiyam. Mr. Vijayakant has gone on record stating that he has the liberty to contest in any of the constituencies, and moreover there is religious similarity between Vriddhachalam and Rishivandhiyam (the presiding deity in the former is Vriddhagiriswarar and in the latter Arthaneeswarar).

          The versions doing the rounds are that Rishivandhiyam is his in-laws' place and also he wants to capitalise on the strained relation between the sitting MLA and DMK MP Adhi Sankar. Whether it is his affinity with or attraction to the place, the most daunting task before Mr. Vijayakant is that he has to win the confidence of the electorate. The people of this Assembly segment have been yearning for much-needed basic amenities and infrastructure.

           For seeking redressal of every administrative and local problems, they would have to go to the panchayat union office located at Pagandai Cross Roads, and for getting treatment for chronic ailments or accident cases they would have to go either to Kallakurichi or Villupuram, about 50 km away. This is primarily a pastoral segment which has hardly any trace of urbanisation about it.

           Employment problem is quite acute and hence, there is a large-scale migration, year round. A large chunk of the 2,06,275-strong electorate, including 1,06,698 men and 1,00,011 women and 16 aravanis, is labourers eking out a frugal living. Owing to poor road condition, there is skeletal public transport, which severely affects the school-going children.

Of course, Mr. Sivaraj has been elected four times from the constituency: 

             viz., in 1984, 1996, 2001 and 2006 but the big question mark is whether he can expect the same kind of support this time around. The DMDK, which already felt the pulse of the electorate in the 2006 Assembly poll and in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, has now joined hands with the AIADMK and with combined strength, as seen in the aggregate voting percentage, Mr. Vijayakant has been emboldened to take on Mr. Sivaraj. In this, the track record of Mr. Vijayakant as an MLA in the Vriddhachalam constituency has little relevance.

          With the solid backing of the PMK and the VCK, Mr. Sivaraj seems also poised for another innings. The outcome will determine the future political prospects of not only Mr. Vijayakant but the DMDK itself. Hence, the campaign managers in both the camps are awaiting the D-Day with palpitating hearts while the electorate holds the key for their making or undoing.

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