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TN Assembly polls: Constituency Watch | AIADMK will have to sweat it out to retain its winning streak

Sexual abuse case continues to haunt it in Pollachi

The ruling AIADMK will have to sweat it out if it wants to retain its winning streak in the Pollachi Assembly constituency.

The Pollachi sexual assault case continues to haunt the prospects of the AIADMK in the battle of ballots. To continue its winning streak, the party will have to work very hard as the DMK campaign focuses on the anti-incumbency factor and the slow pace of development.

In addition to this, the AIADMK is struggling to defend its image, tarnished by the involvement of its functionaries in the sexual abuse case. In fact, Pollachi V. Jayaraman, the incumbent MLA and Deputy Speaker in the Assembly, keeps re-iterating that it was he who ensured that action was initiated in the case.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the AIADMK suffered a major setback as a result of the Pollachi sexual assault case that just unfolded in February 2019. While the DMK and its allies are harping on the case in their campaign, the AIADMK is losing substantial time and energy, offering explanations that due action had been initiated against perpetrators of the crime.

Since 1952, the Pollachi constituency has returned Congress nominees thrice (1952, 1957 and 1962), DMK nominees thrice (1967, 1971 and 1996) and right from 1977, its voters have continuously returned the AIADMK nominees nine times, except in 1996. Mr. Jayaraman has been returned to the Assembly thrice in 2001, 2006 and 2016. In 2011, he won from the neighbouring Udumalpet constituency.

There are eight contestants in the fray this time, including those from the MNM and the NTK. The ruling AIADMK has re-nominated Mr. Jayaraman of the Chettiar community, while the DMK has nominated an orthopaedic doctor, K. Varadarajan, from the Kongu Velala Gounder community.

People call the DMK candidate’s clinic as “Varadarajan aspathiri” as for over two decades, he has established a rapport with the people through affordable medical care. Treatment is free for those who cannot afford it, point out DMK cadre. In 2001, he tried his luck in the polls on an MDMK ticket and polled more than 23,000 votes to finish third.

Sandwiched between Coimbatore on one side and Kerala on the other, the economy of the constituency is largely reliant on coconut and coir-based industries. The constituency has a substantial population of Kongu Velala Gounders, Chettiars and people from the backward classes and listed communities. The slow pace of underground drainage works for four years and the resultant damage to roads are likely to impact the AIADMK in the urban areas. The other issues, demands or promises of the DMK-led alliance that are likely to damage the prospects of the AIADMK are failure to set up a nursing college and to bring water from the Parambikulam-Aliyar Project for the Godavadi tank.

The constituency accounts for a substantial percentage of the country’s coconut cultivation and setting up of an office of the Coconut Development Board continues to remain an electoral promise.

The AIADMK defends its case, citing the completion of buildings for the panchayat union, the Pollachi Municipal office and a combined court complex, among other things. The other major demand that is over two decades old is the creation of a new district, with Pollachi as its headquarters, to elevate its status of being a revenue division for 164 years.

With claims of sustained development being placed by the AIADMK, it is trying to retain its victory streak, whereas the DMK equally counters the ruling party by listing out unfulfilled promises.

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