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Tiruchi has failed to realise its full potential for growth, feel the urban voters

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The agrarian distress accentuated by a looming drought after the devastating Cyclone Gaja, continuing recession in the industry and inadequacies in urban infrastructure dominate the political narrative in the Tiruchi constituency ahead of the Lok Sabha election.

The constituency makes for a contrasting landscape, as it spreads over the agriculture belts on the banks of the Cauvery in Srirangam and the rain-dependent Pudukottai district with urban pockets in between.

Its perceived advantages of being centrally located in the State and a seat of higher education notwithstanding, Tiruchi has failed to realise its full potential for growth, feel the urban voters.

Expansion of the airport runway, establishment of an integrated bus stand and building service lanes along the Thanjavur highway are among the projects that have been hanging fire for years.

“It is a bane of the city that many development plans remain on paper for years. There has been none to lobby for the city’s cause,” rues H. Ghouse Baig, a consumer activist.

The steel fabrication industry has been reeling under crisis for more than five years.

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Farmers in parts of Pudukottai and Tiruchi districts are still struggling to recover from the blow dealt by cyclone Gaja.

The voting pattern in the constituency has been largely cosmopolitan and the Congress and Left parties have held sway from 1957 to 1996, except in 1980 when N. Selvaraj of the DMK won. Congress strongman L. Adaikalaraj’s winning streak for four consecutive terms from 1984 came to an end when the BJP’s Rangarajan Kumaramangalam breathed life into the party here, winning twice in succession in 1998 and 1999. The AIADMK’s first victory came in 2001 byelection, but it lost to the MDMK in 2004. The party reclaimed the seat in 2009 and managed to retain it in 2014.

Three-cornered fight

This time around, the constituency is witnessing a three-cornered contest among the Congress, DMDK and the AMMK, though smaller parties such as the Naam Tamizhar Katchi and the fledgling Makkal Needhi Maiam are also in the fray.

The DMDK’s presidium chairman, V. Elangovan is pitted against formidable opponents — former Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president Su.Thirunavukkarasar and former Tiruchi Mayor Sarubala R. Tondaiman of the AMMK. A doctor by profession from Dharmapuri, Mr.Elangovan has been hard pressed to shrug off the ‘outsider’ tag and take along the faction-ridden AIADMK in Tiruchi. He has been promising to study the needs of the constituency and address the issues.

The battle-hardened Mr.Thirunavukkarasar, a former Union Minister and six-time MLA, too has to galvanise cadre of both the Congress and DMK. A native of Pudukottai, Mr. Thirunavukkarasar has promised to remain in Tiruchi to work for the constituency development.

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