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A Saffron Challenge on the Western Front

With at least four strong candidates in the fray, the district is expected to sizzle in the coming days.

Published: 05th April 2016 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd April 2016 10:51 AM   |  A+A-

Saffron

Selfie-Story-logo.jpgWhen the AIADMK swept the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, winning 37 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats, there were a handful of Assembly segments within the constituencies that went against the flow. Among the few that resisted the wave was Coimbatore South, where in a rare occurance, a BJP candidate polled more votes than his AIADMK rival. Little wonder then that the national party, which is on a solitary journey  this election, has pinned its hopes on a miraculous victory here.

Historically, the party has not fared well in Assembly polls from here, never getting more than 6,000 votes, with the sole exception being the 2001 hustings that were held before the memories of the serial bomb blasts had faded away. This time, however, on the back of encouraging performance in 2014, as many as 29 aspirants, including bigwigs, were hoping to contest from here, party sources told Express.

Saffrona.JPGBut when the high command released the first list of 54 candidates, it was Vanathi Srinivasan, a Chennai-based leader who got the chance. “Every party has areas that are their strongholds, where the possibility of their winning is very high. Based on the number of votes we got, party’s activities and other such factors, we see Coimbatore as one such pocket,” said Vanathi, who has already begun her campaign, even before the two Dravidian majors and a former ally, DMDK-led Third Front, have finalised their candidates.

The district is among the most urbanised part of the State, accounting for a sizeable chunk of MSMEs and light industries, and textile mills and a good number of people from North India, who have made this western city their home for decades.

Saffronb.JPGThough an industrial hub, the stalwarts still have a long-pending list of demands at the ready. Simplified norms and swifter clearance system figure on top. According to D Nandakumar, president of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Coimbatore chapter, “There should be a single window clearance system for the industries. Also, the State pollution control board should adopt the simplified norms that were brought in by the Central Board.”

There is also an undercurrent of communal polarisation that deepened after the serial blasts. This has led to the party to arrive at the conclusion that Brand Modi has a good traction here.

Even as it enthuses the optimistic among the party faithful, the 2014 figures does not tell the full story. During that election, the BJP was part of a multi-party coalition, which included DMDK and also a party of the influential Kongu Gounder community, KMDK, all of whom brought in substantial number of votes. Just as it has a good number of industrial units, there are a large number of working class population here; it thus is not surprising that five out of 11 MLAs have been from the Left. It perhaps helped that the district borders neighbouring Kerala and has a good many Malayalis settled here.

The campaigns have not yet gained steam, but the buzz is already palpable. With at least four strong candidates in the fray, the district is expected to sizzle in the coming days.

‘Ease Loan Process for the Growth of Small Industries’

Even the MSME owners have a wishlist that they want addressed. Speaking to Express N Kanagaraj (40), proprietor of Sri Mythili Industries in Udayampalayam, said, “Bank loans are provided only to big companies, which can provide surety. Small industries like us cannot produce surety. The government should take steps to provide bank loans without surety to small and medium industries, so that we can also grow.”

 

VOICES:

-  “About a century ago, Madurai and Trichy were more developed than Coimbatore. With no political backup nor raw material resources, industrialists here were left to their own efforts to develop their businesses, which they managed to succeed. Luckily for them, only the first five year plan gave importance to agriculture while and the subsequent ones gave the thrust to industries which helped them grow.” -- city historian CR Ilangovan

 

- “There should be a single window clearance system for the industries. Also, the State pollution control board should adopt the simplified norms that were brought in by the central board.” -- D Nandakumar, the president of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Coimbatore.

 

- “Textile industries in Tamil Nadu have to pay 5 % State VAT if they buy yarn within the State, where as they have to pay only 2 % as Central Sales Tax. This issue needs to be addressed by the next government.” -- Southern India Mills Association (SIMA) chairman M Senthil Kumar

 

- “The authorities have fixed a meagre amount as compensation for crops that are damaged by wild animals. This should be revised. Also, there is a big gap between the farm-gate price and retail rate that should be minimized.” P Kandasamy, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam

 

- “Like Centre buying 20 % of engineering spare parts from MSMEs, the State should also buy 30 % for various departments from these industries, which employ about 6 lakh persons in the district. They should also provide loans at 8 % interest rate.” -- S Ravikumar, president, Coimbatore and Tirupur District Micro and Cottage Entrepreneurs Association (COTMA)

 

- “Government spending on health care and health education should be increased to at least 10-12 percent of State GDP.” Nalla G Palaniswami, chairman, Kovai Medical Centre and Hospital.

 

Poll Facts:

Total number of voters: 242869(121563 - Male; 121272- Female; 34- Others)

Number of polling booths: 256 booths in 59 locations (9 sensitive booths)

 

Coimbatore:

Total number of voters: 2806690(1397938 - Male; 1408509- Female; 243- Others)

Number of polling booths: 2892 (273 sensitive booths; 5 critical booths)

 

 

Past Results:

1967 – M Bhupathy (CPM)

1971 K Ranganathan (DMK)

1977 K Ramani (CPM)

1980 K Ramani (CPM) BJP 870

1984 K Ramani (CPM)

1989 K Ramani (CPM)

1991 VK Lakshmanan (Congress) BJP 5275

1996 VK Lakshmanan (TMC-M) BJP 3500

2001 VK Lakshmanan (TMC - M) BJP 38208

2006 Pongalur N Palanisamy (DMK) BJP 2649

 

2011:

Total Votes: 2,00,261; Votes Polled: 1,43,369;

Duraiswamy R alias Challenger Durai (AIADMK) 80,637 (56.27%)

Pongalur N Palanisamy (DMK) 52,841 (36.88%)

Margin 27,796 (19.40 %)

CR Nandhakumar (BJP) 5171 (3.61%)

 

Trivia:

- The first textile mill was started by SP Narasimhalu and Robert Stanes

- In Southern India, bus transportation was first started by GD Naidu in 1920’s, which contributed to infrastructure development.

- In the early days, Coimbatore had three technical education institutions PSG, CIT and GD Naidu (which was later on converted in to Government College of Technology), in comparison, Chennai had only two technical institutions.

- The city had protected drinking water and electricity in 1930’s much before Tamil Nadu State was formed, thanks to the efforts taken by the then Coimbatore Municipality chairman CS Rathna Sabapathy Muthaliar, who played a major role in city get drinking water from Siruvani in 1929, electricity from Pykara in 1931.

- Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), Coimbatore was founded in 1929 by RK Shanmugam Chetty, the first Finance Minister of independent India.

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