Amma's star shines in RK Nagar

Amma's star shines in RK Nagar

Until now, her presence in RK Nagar was reduced to a smiling picture on leaflets, but chief minister Jayalalithaa looks ever more invincible in her adopted constituency with locals vouching their support.

For the first time since she hit the campaign trail a few weeks ago, “Amma” was in her constituency on Friday to address voters.

As she stopped by at five places to meet the locals, thousands gathered to see the chief minister in person.

With a manifesto promising subsidised two-wheelers for women and free mobile phones, Jayalalithaa looked assured of retaining RK Nagar, the seat she won nearly a year ago in the by-elections in excess of 1.5 lakh votes.

Jayalalithaa said her government spent Rs 200 crore in RK Nagar to implement various projects, including drinking water supply. “You all give me life like the air I breathe,” she said, amid loud cheering.

Ranked among the smallest of constituencies in Tamil Nadu, RK Nagar has 1.24 lakh men, 1.23 lakh women and 103 third gender voters, with the population being a blend of middle and lower class.

AIADMK’s P Vetrivel won the seat in 2011, downing DMK’s PK Sekar Babu by 31,255 votes.

After Jayalalithaa’s acquittal from the illegal wealth case in 2015, Vetrivel resigned and made way for “Amma’s” re-election to the state Assembly.

Since June 2015, the transformation in RK Nagar was palpable. “We have started seeing new roads, streetlights and ‘Amma Canteens’,” boasts B Kumar, a first time voter in the constituency.

 For Valliyammal, a flower vendor, the flood relief from the government in January 2016 breathed a new life into her business.

“I got everything I lost in the flood. Importantly, the Rs 5000 was vital for me to kick-start my flower business,” Valliyammal said, recalling how happy she was to see the chief minister during the floods.

But all is not smelling rose in the constituency, certainly not the high level of pollution and incineration of garbage.

K Rajkumar, resident of Ranganathapuram in RK Nagar, said drinking water to residents here came mixed with sewage.

Locals also complained that an oil pipe going to the Ennore port leaks and contaminates ground water.

But all that matters for RK Nagar residents is the way their constituency has been transformed from an obscure north Chennai outpost to a star seat. With the chief minister representing them, they believe most pending issues could be addressed.

“We believe all existing issues would be addressed once she (Jayalalithaa) comes back to power,” said M Ramesh, who runs a printing press here, said.

With people here barely knowing names of the opposition candidates, Jayalalithaa enjoys a clear advantage.

 

Voters to pledge to reject money

Amid reports of money being paid to buy votes in Tamil Nadu, about 1 crore electorates in the state would take a pledge on May 10 that they would not accept money, DHNS reports from Chennai. State Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhoni said people from all walks of life including political parties, NGOs, state, central and private sector employees have been advised to take the pledge at 10 am on May 10. 

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