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Civic issues worry RK Nagar voters more than the election

RK Nagar by-election has been touted as the litmus test for the AIADMK riven by factionalism after the passing away of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. Voters however, are more worried about growing civic issues.

Civic issues worry RK Nagar voters more than the election
Garbage is piled up in RK Nagar and residents complain of having to walk through filthy roads


Candidates contesting in the RK Nagar bypoll caused by the untimely death of the late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa have their work cut out as local voters still remember how she nurtured  the constituency. 

Though campaigning is yet to start in earnest, a visit to the area revealed  voter apathy as everybody this reporter spoke to wondered what an opposition candidate even if he wins, can accomplish for the area. And with the O Panneerselvam and Sasikala factions of the AIADMK fielding their respective candidates, people say ultimately how candidates play their cards will make a difference. 

While the Sasikala faction candidate TTV Dinakaran plans to release a separate manifesto for the constituency, OPS candidate E Madhusudanan will play the local boy card. Deepa is the dark horse in the fray. DMK’s Marudu Ganesh, though a local, is an unknown in the area. The AIADMK is banking on the fact that from 1977, the AIADMK has won 7 of the 11 elections followed by the DMK and Congress winning  twice each. 

SK Murthy of Ezhilnagar said the prime need of the locality was provision of enough potable water. Though he accepts that drought will reduce availability, “What prevented officials from doing the needful to meet our needs earlier?” he asks. Reiterating this, S Sankar a government employee said, “Sewage mixing with drinking water is yet to be controlled on a permanent basis though temporary measures are undertaken.” But he adds a new dimension when he says “Due  to the prestige involved in winning in this constituency, we now hear rumours of parties willing to spend huge sums of money seeking voter support.” 

For auto driver L Musa, “The daily traffic congestion on Ennore High Road due to the high container traffic from the port is an issue where promises on measures have never been kept. At least when Jayalalithaa was CM, she could do something, but what can a by- election winner accomplish?” he wonders. 

Durga Devi Nagar residents say there is an additional issue. “The Corporation dumpyard near Ezhilnagar is deliberately allowed to smoulder three days a week resulting in a foul odour and health issues for all of us,” says Balammal who runs a small shop in the area. Agreeing with   her is Bhavani another local shopkeeper who adds that a flyover across the level crossing at Ezhilnagar is long pending and traffic congestion during peak hours has to be seen to be believed.  

As Ennore High Road is a two- lane highway, traffic police will have to teach lane discipline to users, as at the Ezhilnagar level-crossing, vehicles on both sides occupy the entire road width, resulting in traffic bottlenecks and frayed tempers. Returning Officer Praveen P Nair’s base in the Tondiarpet Zonal office needs to be streamlined as those visiting are made to run up and down two floors searching for officials or their offices. There is no signage posted. 

The constituency has a total voter strength of 2, 62, 721 including 1, 28, 305 male voters, 1,34, 307 female voters and 107 third genders. Voters will exercise their franchise in 256 booths of which 29 have been declared vulnerable.

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