The much-awaited road remains a distant dream for people, especially plantation workers, for several decades. The labourers of cardamom estates on Kerala border, numbering nearly 10,000, have been taking a 54 km long circuitous route to reach their place of work. Once the ghat road is laid, it would cut down the distance to just 17 km, making it the shortest route from Thevaram, Bodi and Uthamapalayam.
Many from the tribal hamlets, including Bodi Mettu, Kurangani and Top Station, complained of not having proper roads to access essential services. The ruling party is hoping to take advantage of Madurai-Bodi train service, which is expected to resume soon after long years. Katchikannan, general secretary, Ainthu Maavatta Mullaiperiyar-Vaigai Paasana Vivasayigal Sangam, said agriculture was the major occupation for people in this constituency. Much to their delight, the 18th channel of Mullaiperiyar dam, which caters to the needs of farmers and people of five districts in south Tamil Nadu, was extended up to Bodinayakanur from Thevaram. He added that there was a need to establish a mini airport in Bodi for the benefit of cardamom, grapes, banana and coconut farmers, who could export these produces. Hence, he added, the constituency should have one of the 100 new airports that the Centre is planning to commission by 2024.
New problems have cropped up in parts of the constituency over the State government’s decision to provide 10.5 per cent reservation for Vanniyars. Many have also opposed the rechristening of seven sub sects as Devendrakula Velalar, with people – mainly from the Denotified Communities – putting up black flags in protest.
Bodinayakanur, which is represented by Panneerselvam in the last two terms, remains a stronghold for the AIADMK. Panneerselvam’s electoral career started from Periyakulam, from where he contested and won twice in 2001 and 2006. After that Assembly constituency was reserved for SC/ST, he opted Bodinayakanur constituency in 2011 and 2016.
The party has strong roots in this Assembly constituency, having won it seven times since 1971. This time, too, the constituency is likely to face one-on-one contest between AIADMK and its arch rival DMK.