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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Former judge seeks people’s verdict

VILLUPURAM: An important transit point to Chennai and a gateway to South Tamil Nadu, Villupuram town is yet to see any substantial development, except the four-lane highway.

The newly formed Villupuram (reserved) constituency is quite backward in terms of education, standard of living, industrial growth and agricultural production.

The constituency comprises the six Assembly segments of Tindivanam (reserved), Vanur (reserved), Villupuram, Vikkiravandi, Thirukkoilur and Ulundurpet.

Since agriculture, which provides livelihood for a majority of the population, is an unviable proposition now, farmers have been selling their land to realtors. A substantial chunk of farm lands along the four-lane highway have been converted into housing plots.

This has rendered many farm labourers jobless. However, some of them are employed thanks to the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Due to the lack of sufficient opportunities, migration of workers to the proverbial greener pastures in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and to even to the Gulf countries continues.

The coastal area in the district is vulnerable to sea erosion and hence, there have been a series of agitations seeking remedial measures. The Sri Lankan Tamils issue is an emotive one in this region and has gained prominence in the campaign.

On the educational front, the saving grace is the establishment of two government engineering colleges at Villupuram and Tindivanam, affiliated to Anna University, Chennai. A government medical college is also coming up at Villupuram.

For improving the standard of school education and increasing the funds allocated to the field, the VCK is insisting upon reverting education from the Concurrent List to the State List, which it believes will help in deciding the medium of instruction.

Retired Judge of the Madras High Court K. Swamidurai of the VCK is locked in a direct contest with M. Anandan of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam here.

Earlier, the VCK had chosen to field S.P. Velayutham for the seat. But soon after the High Court passed a stricture ordering a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into a land deal he was involved in, the party changed the candidate.

Mr. Swamidurai, who had served as a member of the State Human Rights Commission, is now a member of the sub-committee of the Sri Lankan Tamils’ Rights and Welfare Forum launched by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The AIADMK has replaced P. Murugan, who figured in the first list of the party candidates, with former AIADMK Minister Mr. Anandan. There are 17 other candidates in the fray.

The presence of the DMDK and the BSP candidates in the field would split the Dalit votes to a certain extent and so also the Eraiyur issue, in which there is an undercurrent of tension between Dalit Christians and Vanniyar Christians.

Mr. Swamidurai seems to be on a stronger wicket than his opponents by virtue of the ruling DMK’s schemes.

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