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Erode East, it's electoral arithmetic vs powerloom worker woes

With both the major fronts led by the DMK and AIADMK fighting against each other, it is a high-stakes game waiting to be unfolded on March 2 when the votes will be counted.

Erode East, its electoral arithmetic vs powerloom worker woes
Representative image

CHENNAI: The Erode East by-poll to be held on February 27 will be a major game changer in Tamil Nadu state politics before the 2024 general elections.

With both the major fronts led by the DMK and AIADMK fighting against each other, it is a high-stakes game waiting to be unfolded on March 2 when the votes will be counted.

The DMK front, which fielded EVKS Elangovan, senior Congress leader and father of the deceased legislator, E Thirumahan Everaa, seems to be in a positive position as the sympathy factor will definitely be there with the Congress candidate.

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More than that EVKS Elangovan is the grandson of the revolutionary Tamil leader, EV Ramasamy Periyar, or 'Thanthai' Periyar, who is considered the founder of Dravidian movement.

E Thirumahan Everaa had won the Erode East seat by a margin of 8904 votes defeating the nearest candidate, M Yuvaraj of the Tamil Manila Congress (TMC) in the 2021 assembly polls and this gives the DMK front a starting edge.

Tamil superstar Kamal Haasan-led, Makkal Needhi Maiam( MNM) has also extended its support to the DMK front for the first time since its inception six years ago. The MNM candidate, Rajakumar MR had collected 10,000 votes in the 2021 assembly polls.

However, AIADMK is confident that in politics it's not arithmetics that give the results but the election chemistry and that the party candidate, KV Thenarasu who was a former legislator in the constituency has created ripples in Erode East.

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The results of the Erode East by-election would be a major factor in future AIADMK politics as the party faction led by former Chief Minister, Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) is taking control of the party.

AIADMK leader and former minister, D Jayakumar considered to be close to EPS has already stated that the AIADMK leadership led by EPS welcomes all former AIADMK leaders back into party fold barring O Panneerselvam, VK Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran. This was a message given by the EPS faction to the OPS faction that they would break that faction and bring in all other leaders and cadres back into the fold.

The result of Erode East by-poll has a major bearing on the general politics of Tamil Nadu as BJP has been trying to enter into the centre of Tamil politics catapulting itself into a big political force in the state.

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Another major factor concerning Erode East by-polls will be the powerloom workers of Erode district who have to shift to other jobs for a living after the delay in Pongal saree and dhoti contract and several looms getting shut down. It is to be noted that Erode district has more than 20,000 powerloom workers and there is ire among the workers against the DMK government.

R Bhaskaran, a powerloom worker, who has now shifted to be a full time agricultural labourer while speaking to IANS, said, "The delay in the contract of Pongal sarees and dhotis has led to closing down of a majority of powerlooms in the district which houses one of the highest numbers of power looms in the state.

"Generally, we get the contract for Pongal sarees and Dhotis by June or July but this year it was given in November leading to a shortage of production and ultimately closing down of powerlooms. We are fed up with this failure from the state government and for a living, I am now an agriculture labourer."

The plight shared by Bhaskaran cannot be dismissed as a single incident and many people have already quit the powerloom industry and have either become manual labourers, agriculture labourers, auto drivers or taken other jobs for a living.

G Padmanabhan, Director, Socio Economic Development Foundation (SEDF), a think tank based out of Madurai while speaking to IANS, said, "The lack of jobs in the powerloom sector will have a bearing in the elections and the DMK is in a sticky wicket here.

"The results will have a bearing across the state and powerloom workers in Madurai, Salem and Erode are also angry against the government due to the lack of proper coordination in giving the contract for Pongal sarees and dhotis."

While DMK seems to have the arithmetic advantage based on past performance, sympathy factor as also on the support extended by the MNM, the undercurrents in the constituency will have a forbearing on what is in store as voters queue up on Monday to make their choice.

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