TN polls: Will minister withstand problems due to powercuts?

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Coimbatore, Apr 6: Will small and rural Industries Minister Pongalur Palanisamy withstand the onslaught of problems created to Small Scale Industries due to frequent powercuts in this textile city, known as ''Manchester of India''?

Coimbatore South, a new urban constituency born out of the delimitation exercise, where Palanisamy is trying his luck,has an electorate mostly comprising small-scale industrialists.

With polling day a week away, the overwhelming demand of residents in this industrially advanced seat is a solution to the power shortage,which has adversely hit the city's economy.

"Give us power,we will take you to the seat of power," seems to be the general mantra of Coimbatoreans, particularly those in Coimbatore South and North constituencies, two major urban seats in the district.

Palanisamy is leaving no stone unturned to secure victory, as he faces a challenge from ''Challenger'' alias R Duraisamy of AIADMK, the richest candidate, who is also making serious efforts to avenge his defeat at the hands of Palanisamy in 1996 in nearby Singanallur constituency.

With no evident swing in favour of ruling DMK, which is facing the wrath of the electorate due to frequent powercuts and price rise,it will be increasingly tough for Palanisamy to repeat his 1996 feat of beating Duraisamy by 57,000 votes.

With Muslim voters in Kottaimedu and Ukkadam areas accounting for about 41,000 of the total of 1,96,756 voters in the constituency, both candidates are appealing for their support. While DMK courts Muslim voters with its ''secular'' credentials, AIADMK has recently announced its intention to increase reservation for the community if elected to power.

The memory of the horrific bomb blasts of 1998 still linger in the minds of locals, particularly Muslims, who claim they were subjected to police harrassement in the aftermath of the terror attacks.

Another major factor that would decide the winner's fate is the sizeable number of non-Tamil voters -- around 35,000 of them from Kerala and more than 20,000 from North India -- who had voted for Palanisamy, but with a slender margin in 2006.

As the constituency has a number of small scale industries, textile mills and also goldsmiths, the issue of power shortage will have a bearing on the poll result.

"This time around those who give us proper power supply, besides much-needed basic amenities like adequate drinking water will be taken to the seat of power", voters say.

PTI

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