A heritage town which has seen little development over the past few decades, the Thanjavur Assembly constituency is going to the by-election amid public expectations of better civic and tourism infrastructure. Though the town is one among those included under the Smart Cities Mission programme, work is yet to begin, much to the disappointment of the residents.
A look at the 2006 and 2011 election results of this constituency reveal that the Dravidian party which aligned with the Left was able to cross the victory margin comfortably. In 2006, the DMK retained this seat with the Communist party backing it up and lost it to its arch rival in 2011 as the latter boarded the AIADMK wagon.
In the current situation, the AIADMK’s vote bank is expected to suffer a dent with M. Rengasamy, now in the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, mounting a serious challenge to the ruling party. Intra-party squabbles, which rattled the prospects of the party achieving a record sixth successive victory in Thanjavar Lok Sabha constituency in the 2014 elections, continues to plague the DMK.
The DMK leadership has carefully chosen a candidate who does not belong to the majority caste in this constituency with a calculation that the vote bank of the majority caste could get split between the candidates fielded by the AIADMK and AMMK and hence its nominee could scrape through with the assistance of the Communist party.
As expected, the Communists have put their heart and soul in the campaign, wiping from the memory the fact that they were canvassing for a party which they had opposed in the 2016 elections to the State Assembly.
For the AMMK, which has re-nominated Mr. Rengasamy, one among the 18 disqualified MLAs, it is a do-or-die situation. His main advantage, as perceived by the AMMK cadre, is that he was introduced by Puratchi Thalaivi Amma in 2011 and had earned the goodwill of the electorate during his first tenure as Thanjavur MLA.
Although there are 13 candidates in the fray, the constituency is witnessing a fierce three-cornered contest among the AIADMK, DMK and the AMMK candidates.
Among the major problems facing the electorate in the constituency are civic issues, severe traffic congestion within the town and poor public transport links between Thanjavur and rural areas of the district. Despite being upgraded as a Corporation, the town has not witnessed developments in keeping with its status as an important tourist destination in the State.
Poor maintenance of waterbodies within the town is also a major plaint of the people. Samanthankulam and a small tank near Four Pillar Mandapam have given way to concrete structures and the feeder link to Iyyankulam from Sivagangai Tank had been cut off due to indiscriminate construction activity.
The road overbridge built to ease traffic congestion at Santhapillai railway level crossing has thrown up a new problem for road users -traffic congestion on Marry’s Corner side, especially during school opening and closing hours. The Medical College Road has been witnessing frequent accidents as this road has many intersections from the ROB near the Big Temple up to Nilagiri village panchayat.
Residents of Thanjavur have also been pleading for better rail connectivity through the main line, especially to Chennai.
Doll sellers’ plea
Traders engaged in selling the famous ‘Thanjavur thalaiyatti bhommai’ (dolls) on the platform opposite Thilakar Thidal lament that their request for a suitable place from the platform vendors to carry on with their business had fallen on deaf ears though their counterparts near Tholkappiar Square had been provided with alternative site under the Smart City project.
“We too pay fees to the civic body. But our request for an alternative site after we were evicted from vehicle parking area right opposite the Big Temple remains unanswered,” said a trader.