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The contentious issue will haunt candidates

By G. Srinivasan

In Thanjavur district, once considered the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu, candidates for Lok sabha elections may have to face sullen voters, thanks to drought, for the third year in a row, wreaking havoc on their economy. The candidates may have to do a lot of explaining why their parties have not solved the Cauvery issue.

Political parties never fail to exploit the Cauvery issue whenever there is a severe water problem. However, to de-politicise it, delta farmers have been trying to find a solution on "mutual understanding" with their Karnataka counterparts and they are exchanging visits by farmers.

Industrialisation remains a distant dream. In the past three or four decades sugar mills came up in the district.

There is a state-owned Anna sugar factory at Kurunkulam near Thanjavur and a private unit at Thirumandankudy near Kumbakonam. The state-owned factory registered good sugar recovery this year.

According to the District Industries Centre, there are 9,271 small-scale industrial units, nine medium and large-scale units, 5,187 cottage industries and 7,805 handicrafts units. The land of temples, Thanjavur district has always been a patron of fine arts and crafts. Thanjavur paintings and Thanjavur art plates are world famous. At Thanjavur town, harmonium and veena are being manufactured. The areas near Kumbakonam are famous for icon making, bell metal wares, lead utensils and silk sarees. Caste-wise Kallars dominate the district. There is a sizable minority population of Christians and Muslims in the Thanjavur Assembly segment.

The district has been a fort of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the All-India Anna Munnetra Kazhagam with its vote bank has been trying to wrest it. In the last election in 1999, S.S. Palani Manickam of the DMK won the Thanjavur Lok Sabha seat, polling 2,95,191 votes against 2,62,177 secured by K. Thangamuthu of the AIADMK. This time also they are the main contestants.

Mr. Palani Manickam was the winner in the 1998 election also. He polled 3,24,344 votes against L.Ganesan of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, who got 2,76,140 votes. Total number of Assembly segments in the district: 10. Pattukottai, Peravurani (both under the Pudukottai Lok Sabha constituency); Kumbakonam, Thiruvidaimaruthur (both under the Mayiladuturai Lok Sabha constituency); Orathanadu, Thiruvonam, Thanjavur, Thiruvaiyaru, Papanasam and Valangaiman.

Total number of voters: 17,39, 103 (men 8,51,474 and women 8,87,629.)

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