Firebrand image may consume PT chief
By G. Satyamurty
COIMBATORE, MAY 5. The ``firebrand'' image may hit the chances of the Puthiya Thamizhgam chief, Dr. K. Krishnasamy, in the Valparai reserved constituency.
Voters in various places including Rottikadai, Water Fall, Aliyar and Kottur admit that he is the most well-known among the candidates. But his ``high profile'' activities, not only in Manjolai and Tiruneveli but also in the constituency itself, have earned him both friends and foes.
A visit to this totally rural segment, dependent on plantation industry, reveals that most of the plantation unions, including that of the DMK front which is supposed to support him, are averse to his entry as a legislator.
While some workers admit that he has been instrumental in increasing their wages, thanks to his ``bold and candid negotiations'', some of them observe that the union leaders are thoroughly unhappy with him.
For the past almost five years, he has been visiting Valparai for talks with tea estate managements. ``Even without any official standing, he is able to throw his weight around. If he were to emerge with the political clout of the MLA of this constituency, the unions would lose their relevance'', they assert.
This segment has an electorate of about 1.4 lakhs. At least one- third of the voters are on the hills and the rest in the plains. The electorate in the hills are dependent on the plantation industry.
While almost every major party has a union in the plantation sector of Valparai, Dr. Krishnasamy would have to ``directly'' confront the unions of the AIADMK, Left parties and the TMC. At the same time, how far the DMK front unions will ``whole- heartedly'' campaign for him is a moot question. The people in the plains, especially the dominant community, are said to be nurturing a grouse against him for his ``civil right activism''. During his battle against the ``two -tumbler system'', he allegedly ruffled quite a few feathers, going to the extent of demanding the arrest of certain persons under the Protection of Civil Rights Act.
Another important factor is his symbol. Though he is backed by the DMK front, he is contesting on the ``lock and key'' symbol, which is not popular.
Above all, community-wise also, the PT chief hails from a smaller subsect in the region. But his plus point is that the voters, at least in Valparai town and Kottur, are happy that the sitting DMK MLA, Mr. V. P. Singaravelu, has been quite helpful to them. But the voters' major grouse is that no MLA has ever bothered to stay put in Valparai. ``With his high-profile political activities, how can we expect Dr.Krishnasamy to reside in Valparai?''
In this nine-cornered contest, his major opponent is Mr. Kovai Thangam of the TMC. He is also a known person in the region because he has been an unsuccessful candidate in the Assembly as well as Lok Sabha elections. His maiden contest from Valparai began as early as 1980. Having been a DCC functionary for long and later of the TMC, he has been very active in politics for decades together. He has the backing of the AIADMK alliance in the constituency, which has been an AIADMK-Congress bastion since 1977.