Representational image. | Image Courtesy: The Quint
The election to the Vellore lok sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu was held on Monday after being countermanded due to abusive money power by the Election Commission of India (ECI). The constituency was scheduled to go to for polling on April 18 along with the 38 other constituencies in the state. The election saw a polling of 72.62% as per the ECI statement.
The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the main opposition party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) are locking horns against each other in the constituency. The seat is presently held by AIADMK. The DMK has the advantage of holding four Assembly constituencies while the AIADMK holds two.
The DMK candidate D M Kathir Anand is the son of party’s treasurer and former minister Durai Murugan, while A C Shanmugam, the leader of New Justice Party (NJP) is contesting on the AIADMK symbol. A C Shanmugam had contested as the Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in the 2014 general elections against the AIADMK and DMK.
The TTV Dhinakaran-led Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, after faring below par in both the parliamentary and Assembly bypolls backed away from contesting. Kamal Hasan led-Makkal Needhi Maiam took a similar stand. The director-turned-politician-led Naam Tamilar Katchi has fielded their candidate.
Cash Distribution Alleged in Vaniyambadi
In the Vaniyambadi Assembly segment, DMK cadres locked two Chennai-based AIADMK functionaries allegedly for distribution of cash for votes. The police are conducting an enquiry into the incident apart from which the polling was largely peaceful and incident free.
BJP Absent from Campaign
The DMK had successfully run the campaign trail with all its alliance partners intact, while the BJP was sparsely visible along with the AIADMK. The AIADMK’s stand on the Triple talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha reportedly irked the BJP leadership and prevented it from participating in the campaign. The AIADMK, after supporting the bill in Lok Sabha, took an opposite stand in the Rajya sabha.
The BJP state president Tamilisai Soundarrajan went on to claim that she is not the one to have a daily conversation with the AIADMK leadership to understand their change in stand. No prominent leaders of the BJP were visible during the campaign.
AIADMK Plays Safe
The AIADMK reportedly played safe in the Rajya Sabha on the triple talaq bill as the Vellore constituency has a considerable size of Muslim population. The AIADMK walked out of voting in the Rajya sabha after it had voted in favour of the bill in the lok sabha. But the ground reports suggest that the outcome may still favour the DMK with the AIADMK still finding it tough to deal with the severe anti-incumbency factor. The AIADMK’s stand on the various legislations by the central government has attracted severe criticism and the opposition unity has ensured that the issues are addressed and has reached the voters.
Water Crisis at the Fore
The Vellore district is the producer of around 36% of finished leather goods in the country, as it houses hundreds of leather industries and tanneries. Also, there are government and private organisations including the Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited (BHEL), Tamil Nadu Industrial Explosives Limited, Arcelor Mittal Dhamm Processing Private Limited in the district.
But the water crisis and water pollution have increased since the number of leather and tanning industries are on the rise. The water pollution in the Palar river has been reported to be dangerously high. The river once served as the major source for these industries. The Palar running dry resulted in the excessive usage of ground water and discharge of effluents without processing has polluted the ground water too. The successive AIADMK and DMK governments have shown little interest in rectifying these crucial issues affecting the general public.
The regulation mechanism of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board is known for its ineffectiveness in curbing the menace of pollution all across the state. The state governments’ decision to transport water using trains from Vellore district to the water thrived state capital Chennai too has not amused the people.
DMK Alliance Favoured?
The polling day also saw the scrapping of Article 370 giving special powers to the state of Jammu and Kashmirs, which could also influence the outcome of the elections. In addition, with the present political situation and the ineffective administration of the government, the odds are heavily stacked against the AIADMK. The DMK, even though accused of being home to dynasty politics seems to be the only alternative for the people of the state.