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Thanks to good work of Periasamy, DMK remains the favourite in Athoor

K. Raju


DINDIGUL: With no strong opponent, Revenue Minister and sitting MLA I. Periasamy is contesting in Athoor constituency for the sixth time with full confidence. His DMDK rival, S. Balasubramani, a minnow in State politics, is caught in the whirlwind of in intraparty conflicts.

Athoor has been maintaining its VIP status since 1984 what with producing two powerful ministers _ former finance minister V.R. Nedunchezhian and I. Periasamy.

With large tracts of fertile lands, the labour intensive constituency has different sections of people like weavers, farmers, yarn processors, tribal people, horticulturists and textile manufacturers.

Son of the soil status, good work – engineering college and arts college for women, proposed medical college, relaying of roads within Dindigul town and three railway over bridges, rural roads, new bus stand for Kannivadi, establishment of PHCs in rural areas _ done by him, easy accessibility and good name help him face voters with no fear.

The seasoned politician had first contested in Athoor in 1989 and won the seat with a comfortable margin. But his political graph was full of ups and downs. In 1991, he had lost to AIADMK rival and regained his home constituency in 1996 poll registering a landslide victory. Once again, victory slipped from his hands in the 2001 poll. But he bounced back with a thumping margin in 2006 election and became Minister.

Mr. Balasubramani has been facing problems since announcement of his candidature. Initially, the party had faced stiff protest from district president and probable Rajesh Perumal on fielding Mr. Balasubramani. When the party high command declared Mr. Balasubramani as its official candidate, Mr. Perumal's group vociferously protested and ransacked the Dindigul party office. With no response from the high command, Mr. Perumal joined the DMK.

His exit from the DMDK offered a sigh of relief to the DMK, particularly the minister, as he had posed a grave threat to Congress candidate N.S.V. Chitthan in Athoor segment in the 2009 Parliament poll and in the 2006 assembly election. The DMDK that garnered 16,218 votes in the 2009 poll, was really a headache to the minister. (Mr Rajesh was placed third with 11,476 votes, ie., 7.68 per cent of total polled votes in the 2006 Assembly polls.)

Merger of Thadikombu and Agaram panchayats, major AIADMK votebanks with Athoor from Dindigul constituency is also a setback for him as it strengthens DMDK's hand in Athoor. Smelling the danger, the minister intensified the campaign in both town panchayats.

Mr. Periasamy has till now never allowed his daughters and wife to campaign for him. His son and political heir I.P. Senthil Kumar only had accompanied him so far. For the first time, all his family members, including his wife, daughter, and second son have been campaigning at villages.

With the support of Gounder community, a sizable votebank, Mr. Balasubramani intensifies his campaign silently. Support of AIADMK and its allies reinforces his campaign. Exit of Perumal did not make much difference as DMDK cadres stuck to Mr. Balasubramani, said DMDK functionaries.

Nine candidates, including those of BJP, BSP and Indiya Jananayaka Katchi, are in the fray.

Total electorate in the constituency are 2,07,266 of which 1,04,017 are men and 1,03,249 women.

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