Boycott threat, a big challenge to AIADMK in western districts

Though the manifestos of both the Dravidian majors has turned out to be talk of all the towns in the state, it appears that the lucrative promises of AIADMK and DMK couldn’t eclipses the regional issues, small and big.
Boycott threat, a big challenge to AIADMK in western districts


For instance, there is a perceptible change in mood of electorate in some pockets, especially rural areas, in the Kongu region, a citadel of the Two Leaves for decades, who are firm in turning several projects that bother their region badly. 
The GAIL pipeline issue, High Tension (HT) lines transformers through farmlands and Salem-Chennai Green Corridor Project top the list and these are likely to erode the votes of the AIADMK in western districts. 
While these issues concerning farmers have flared up the sentiments of people against the MGR-founded party in the LS polls, a couple of villages in Coimbatore and Tirupur have also jumped to bandwagon by issuing poll boycott threat highlighting their long pending demands or grievances. 
The 1,000 odd voters in Chellappagoundenpudur, a quaint village near Pollachi, have threatened to boycott polls as their polling booth is located five km away. Similarly, people from two other villages in Tirupur have decided not to vote over patta issue and re-laying  of a key road. 
When asked why people use protests as a tool to express their anger and frustration during elections, Professor V Anto, propaganda secretary of AAP and member of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said, “Three decades ago, people were inspired to boycott polls by the national award-winning film Thaneer Thaneer released in 1981. 
The movie dwells on the issue of water scarcity and political corruption. It showed how people of a village wage a war for water during polls. Still, battered roads, water scarcity and poorly-lit streets continue to be an issue in many villages, towns and even cities.” 
Attributing the growing trend to the alienation of the constituencies by the elected representatives as they visit them only once in five years, he says “hence villagers hit the roads more during election season.” 
The ruling AIADMK, however, sought to downplay calls for poll boycott to be politically motivated. 
“People can’t find any legitimate issue against the government in order to boycott polls. The government has been sincerely attending to all the needs of the people. Yet, if there are any such protests, they could be instigated by opposition parties,” said A Shanmugam, AIADMK MLA from Kinathukadavu constituency. Coimbatore Collector K Rajamani said that an official at the level of RDO inspected the village in Chellappagoundanpudur. 
“Genuine grievance of people will always be addressed. Even the distance of polling stations for local body elections, Assembly and Parliament polls will always change,” he said.  
Farmers have been protesting for the last two years against the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited and state’s Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation Limited for erecting transmission towers on agriculture lands in as many as 13 districts. Opposing the project, the farmers sought the state and Centre to carry out the project by laying underground cables similar to Kerala and abroad or take up an alternative pathway without disturbing the farmlands. The proposed power line is likely to cut through farmlands in districts such as Karur, Erode, Namakkal, Salem, Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Tiruvannamalai, Dindigul and Tirupur.
The 1000 odd voters in Chellappagoundenpudur, a quaint village near Pollachi have threatened to boycott polls as they had to travel five km to exercise their franchise. Lack of proper bus connectivity compounds their problem as they had to trek for about two km to reach the bus stop to board bus. The villagers have put forth their demand to the district administration to install a booth in their neighbourhood.
Farmers have been protesting against laying of gas pipelines cutting across fertile farm lands. They said it will have a devastating effect on agriculture in districts, including Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Namakkal, Salem, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. Nearly 6,000 acres of fertile land will be affected and may ruin the livelihood of thousands of farmers in Western districts.  The farmers blamed the government for having failed to take any concrete steps against the proposed project.
People from two villages in Tirupur have also decided to boycott the Lok Sabha polls. Residents of Arivoli Nagar faulted both the AIADMK and DMK governments for failing to issue pattas for the land given way back in 1993. Similarly, the residents of Kittampalayam in Thekkalur panchayat have also threatened to boycott elections demanding to re-lay a stretch of a road.
Black flag protests, hunger strikes and demonstrations marked farmers protest against the 10,000 crore proposed Green Corridor Project between Salem and Chennai. Farmers claim that more than 15,000 acres of fertile farmlands and forests have been acquired for it. Even the High Court intervened and directed the police not to use force against the protestors.

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