NAGERCOIL

Published on May 01, 2004 08:54 PM IST

Nagercoil has the unique distinction of not electing a candidate belonging to the Dravidian party, which ousted the Congress party from power way back in 1967 in the state.

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PTI | ByS Venkatraman, Press Trust of India, Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu

Nagercoil has the unique distinction of not electing a candidate belonging to the Dravidian party, which ousted the Congress party from power way back in 1967 in the state.

In the past 37 years, no Dravidian party -- DMK or the AIADMK-- was able to send its candidate to the lower house of Parliament from this highly-literate district, situated in the southern most tip of the Indian peninsula.

Always a Congress bastion, Nagercoil has the distinction of electing Congress candidates at least nine times, Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) twice and Janata party and the BJP once each.

The late Congress leader and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, K Kamaraj got elected from this constituency in 1971 on Congress (O) ticket. In 1977 the seat was won by Janata party's Kumari Ananthan who is now in the Congress party.

Congress won the seat four times during 1952 to 1967. It again tasted four victories from 1980 to 1991. In 1996 and 1998, the election was won by TMC, which was formed after parting ways with Congress. It has since merged with Congress.

BJP, which won the Padmanabhapuram assembly seat in 1996, won the Lok Sabha election in 1999 sending Pon Radhakrishnan to the lower house.

Radhakrishnan, who became a central minister, is seeking re-nomination from here this time. He is opposed by the left veteran, AV Bellarmine. Both the candidates are law graduates.

Though the 52-year-old bachelor, Pon Radhakrishnan had been contesting from here since 1991, he emerged successful only in 1999 polls.

A fleeting visit by a PTI correspondent witnessed lacklustre campaign in Tiruvattar, Padmanabhapuram and the coastal Colachel, of the six assembly segments in the constituency.

There are some posters put both by the BJP and the CPI-M candidate. BJP candidate is banking on the popularity of the Prime Minister for the 'good governance'. He has also sanctioned Rs 2 crore from his constituency development fund to establish a government medical college in Aasaripallam. He has also worked towards establishing a branch of the housing and urban development corporation in Nagercoil town.

Yet another project, he has brought for the district was the sports sub centre of the Sports Authority of India at Rajakkamangalam near Nagercoil town. Work on the project, first of its kind in the state, has just begun.

Pon Radhakrishnan is appealing to the people of Nagercoil to give him one more chance to fulfil his dream of setting up a minor port at Colachel or at Thengapattinam.

Practically there is no industry in this backward district and people are dependent only on fishing, coir manufacturing. The establishment of a rubber techno park remained only on paper. The fishermen of the district feel the absence of a fishing harbour in this district.

The constituency has a total of 11.03 lakh voters, with women outnumbering men by a few thousands.

Nagercoil, Vilavancode and Killiyoor are the remaining assembly segments in the constituency.

N Dennis was elected from this constituency at least six times in a row from 1980. In the two Lok Sabha polls in 1996 and 1998, Dennis captured this seat as TMC candidate. Pon Radhakrishnan unsuccessfully contested from here in 1991, 1996 and 1998.

In the 1999 polls, Pon Radhakrishnan, also an advocate, polled 3.07 lakh votes while Dennis got only 1.61 lakh votes.

The CPI-M candidate has its stronghold in the plantation dominated Tiruvattar and Vilavancode segments and also in Kulithalai municipality bordering Kerala state.

Pon Radhakrishnan is banking on the popularity of the Prime Minister. He is also eager to motivate the unemployed youth of the district to take up some self-employment activities.

There is practically no scope for establishing big industries in this district as most of the lands here fall in the forest category, requiring environmental clearance.

CPI-M candidate, Bellarmine, has also promised the voters that he would work to set up a commercial harbour in Colachel and fishing harbours in Colachel and Thengaipattinam.

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