Neck and neck contest in Pennagaram

Neck and neck contest in Pennagaram

Pennagaram has emerged as centre of attraction in Tamil Nadu for the May 16 Assembly elections after Lok Sabha MP Anbumani Ramadoss decided to take on the AIADMK and DMK.

Pennagaram, one of the most backward constituencies, is dominated by Vanniyar, the caste to which PMK’s Ramadoss belongs. The seat has assumed star status after AIADMK strong man and former minister K P Munusamy and  locally influential DMK candidate P N P Inbasekaran entered the poll fray.

In his maiden attempt to enter the Tamil Nadu Assembly, Pattali Makkal Katchi’s (PMK) chief ministerial candidate Anbumani Ramadoss is banking on Vanniar electorates, who voted in favour of the PMK leader in the last Parliamentary polls.

However, the poll scenario in this election is totally different as the interaction with voters across Pennagaram revealed that it will witness a triangular contest among AIADMK, DMK and PMK.

Since Pennagaram has seen only Vanniyar as legislators for the past several decades, almost all political parties, including DMK and AIADMK, have fielded candidates from the dominant community to cash in on the caste sentiments and votes. Known for lack of educational opportunities and unemployment, most of the people from Pennagaram living under poverty have been migrating to the neighbouring town for a living. Pennagaram has about 2.26 lakh voters.

“We still depend on Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. That is not enough for us,” says K Vadivelu, a farmer at Mangapatti in Pennagarm, who suffered huge losses due to drought a few years back.

Even people living in Koothapadi, Hogenakkal, Ottamalai and Papparapatti in this constituency echoed similar views.  The electorate also complained of deficiencies in the distribution and implementation of the much talked-about Hogenakkal drinking water project.

In villages like Mangapatt and Koothapadii, the PMK seems to have an upper hand while the AIADMK and the DMK also have good vote base in Hogenakkal, Ottamalai and its surroundings.

 “He (Anbumani) as an MP has done good things to our constituency. Therefore, we will be happy if he gets elected as MLA,” Govindan a residence of Koothapadi said.

“I will implement all the pending projects besides finding a permanent solution to unemployment problem and setting up quality educational institutions in Pennagaram,” Ramadoss told DH.

He said both Dravidan parties such as AIADMK and DMK have not done anything for the people here. This constituency has witnessed 14 Assembly elections and 1 by-election since its formation in 1971. Of them, the DMK has won 4 times while PMK, AIADMK and the Congress won twice each and Gandhi Kamarajar National Congress and Janata Party won one time each.

With AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa, who was upset by Anbumani’s victory in 2014 general election, has fielded Munusamy, who is also confident of putting a good show. “I have the support of the people, who were benefited by Amma schemes,” Munusamy said.

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