Chidambaram: The Chidambaram Lok Sabha Constituency (Reserved) has attained significance among the reserved parliament seats from Tamil Nadu as the former MP and popular Dalit leader and founder of the Vidhuthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) Thol Thirumavalavan, is pitted against AIADMK rival P. Chandrasekhar.
If Thirumavalavan has the support of DMK-Congress and Left parties, the AIADMK candidate has an advantage in having the backing of the PMK's votes in taking on the Dalit leader.
Chidambaram is also famous for religious and spiritual activities thanks to the very ancient Lord Siva (Nataraja) temple and the Lok Sabha constituency comprises three Assembly segments each in Ariyalur and its adjoining Cuddalore districts.
Ariyalur, Jayankondam, and Kunnam assembly constituencies come under Ariyalur district, while Chidambaram, Bhuvanagiri and Kattumannarkoil come under Cuddalore district.
There are 14.59 lakh voters including female voters of about 7.31 lakh in this constituency.
While this constituency has been politically sensitive in the past due to the PMK-VCK face-offs and OBC Vanniyars versus Dalits tensions, recently it was the suicide of a medical college aspirant Anitha of Kuzhumur village in Kunnam Assembly segment, protesting against 'NEET', which again brought this constituency to political limelight.
The demand for the abolition of 'National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) for medical and dental college aspirants spread like wildfire after Anitha's tragic death here.
In what appears to be basically a direct fight between VCK and AIADMK candidates in this constituency, each is banking on the support of their respective allies to defeat the other.
It is said PMK functionaries are working hard to defeat Thirumavalavan this time.
Thirumavalavan faces another handicap among non-Dalit voters in the constituency for video clips of his speeches in support of inter-caste marriages are being circulated in social media, reinforcing his 'anti-OBC' image.
But fortunately for Thirumavalavan, senior DMK leaders in the district from the Vanniyar community, like M R K Pannerselvam are persuading their community voters that there was not even a single violent incident when Thirumavalavan represented Chidambaram in the Lok Sabha during 2009-2014.
The AIADMK candidate, Mr. Chandrasekhar has another advantage, insofar as out of the six Assembly segments of this Lok Sabha constituency, except Bhuvanagiri, the other five, namely Ariyalur, Jayankondam, Kunnam, Chidambaram, and Kattumannarkovil have ruling party MLAs, including Government Chief whip Thamarai S. Rajendran who is representing Ariyalur in the State Assembly. "The welfare schemes of the AIADMK government and our popular 'Two Leaves' symbol will be of big support to us," said Rajendran, speaking to DC.
Other long-pending issues in this constituency include returning the 10,000 acres of land acquired for the Jayankondam lignite-mining-cum-power generation project, establishment of two more power units by NLC, cashew-based industries, rail link between Cuddalore and Ariyalur, proper development of Pichavaram as a tourist centre and desilting of Veeranam lake. A medical college at Kunnam is another demand.
With campaigning is strong on both sides, the fight between VCK and AIADMK appears to be equal so far. Who will win from here remains a 'Chidambara Rahasyam'.