Will the anti-incumbency factor sway the voters in the April 18 Lok Sabha polls in the coastal district of Cuddalore in the State?
The answer is yes, if the mood in the coastal belt as well as rural and urban areas in Cuddalore and Chidambaram (Reserved) Parliamentary constituencies is any indication. There seems to be a sense of despondency among people whose lives have not changed for the better in recent times.
The ruling AIADMK-BJP-PMK combine, a part of the National Democratic
Alliance, is up against resentment over the failure of the ruling party to address basic issues coupled with squabbling in the AIADMK. Moreover, the party’s decision to align with the BJP has not gone down well with sections of the electorate, especially in Devanampattinam, one of the largest fishing hamlets in the State.
Feeling let down
A. Arivu, a member of the Fishermen Cooperative Society of Devanampattinam, alleged that Industries Minister M.C. Sampath, elected from Cuddalore, had neglected the fishermen, when natural calamities hit the panchayat virtually depriving the fishermen of their sources of livelihood.
“All along, a majority of voters in Devanampattinam had been exercising their franchise in favour of the AIADMK. Members belonging to two fishermen communities in the hamlet voted for the AIADMK as per the direction of the panchayat to prevent a division among the villagers. But this time it would not be easy for the party to take the voters for granted,” he said.
Several benefits like pension for ailing fishermen and educational loans for children had not been available despite the community members making repeated representations.
The cash relief during the ban period on fishing was not available immediately.
“The last time the local Minister visited us was only during the elections,” said M. Nagaraj, another fisherman.
In fact the resentment against Mr. Sampath has directly reflected on the performance of the AIADMK MP Arunmozhi Devan.
A visit to Lenin Nagar, a Dalit colony sandwiched between Vanniyar habitations near Nochikadu in Thyagavalli panchayat, brought to the fore the deep seated anger against the AIADMK-led front.
According to K. Mayavan, a resident, Dalits were scattered in both the DMK and the AIADMK and exercised their franchise in elections without any external influence. “It is only because of the VCK president Thol. Thirumavalavan that we have been able to speak out and get proper respect at all the fora. But the inclusion of the PMK in the alliance has been a major repellent for us because there is no assurance of peaceful existence,” he said. The resentment is as deep in both the rural areas as well as the urban areas. In Muslim-dominated Parangipettai, which falls under Chidambaram Lok Sabha constituency, the general mood is against the BJP Government at the Centre.
“The BJP has been fanning communal tension and polarising the voters. We only want a candidate with a clean image who is concerned about the development of the constituency and address local issues,” says Shahul Hamid, a tea shop owner.