In a paradigm shift from choosing their representatives based on their manifestoes, a section of electorate has decided to dictate their own and get the affidavits signed by the MP aspirants in their respective constituencies.
Fed up of the elected representatives’ apathy towards issues like water scarcity and rapid deterioration of water bodies, residents of Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur districts in Tamil Nadu have come up with an idea that they believe would be effective
Sriperumbudur constituency in Kancheepuram has some prominent names like DMK’s TR Baalu alongside AIADMK-led PMK’s A Vaithilingam. In the coveted constituency, residents of Chitlapakkam have been struggling hard to restore the lake apart from battling water scarcity and frequent floods. The residents blame the indifference towards the lake for the never ending issues, as the lake could meet both water needs and off set floods. Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the residents here have found a golden opportunity to get their long standing demands acknowledged by the candidates. Five candidates among the 19 vying in the constituency have signed affidavits that also includes demands for transparency in projects undertaken. The candidates who have signed so far include M Sridhar of the Makkal Neethi Maiam (MNM). Naam Tamilar Katchi’s (NTK) R Mahendran and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam’s (AMMK) G Tambaram Narayanan. Talking to The Federal, Sunil Jayaram, a resident of the area, and part of the citizen group “Chitlapakkam Rising,” said that rather than taking up the issue later, they thought it will serve them better to get it addressed by the potential elected representatives well ahead. He said, “We have been fighting in vain for these issues for decades now. In all these years, none of them has given us solutions and their manifestos are inconsequential for people like us. We thought, this time, we should meet the MP candidates with our demands.”
Inspired by their initiative, in Thiruninravur, part of Thiruvallur MP constituency, candidates from the MNM (M Lokarangan) and BSP’s R Anbuchezhiyan and three independents have signed the affidavit seeking restoration of the lake which has dried up over years. Dinesh Raj, management consultant and resident of the place for two decades said,” The lake is as big as Chembarambakkam, a rain fed reservoir, but it is yet to be restored and desilted. With a huge population, the residents here are still dependent on private hospitals without a proper government healthcare facility.” The other points in the affidavit include tapping into the tourism potential of the area-which has a number of historical temples- apart from putting in place a government hospital and ensuring effective functioning of the Gram Sabha, along with building of better roads.
Acknowledging that the demands are reasonable, Logarangan said that the MNM also has uninterrupted water supply as its priority and is the first point in the manifesto. “ It is advantage for parties too, as we already know where to begin in the constituency. The residents have come up with practical and important demands. I will be happy to work in association with them.”
While newbies and independents have welcomed the idea, the bigger parties have been hesitant in accepting the demands. Sunil said, “In fact, we first sent the affidavit to TR Baalu, who is yet to respond.”
Voters plan rendezvous with candidates
On the IT corridor of Chennai, there are a number of gated communities with a large section of middle class voters who have no access to political campaigns. In a bid to facilitate a platform for the candidates and the electorate in the area, The Federation of OMR Residents Associations (FOMRRA) which represents about 3 lakh people living in the area, has organised a meeting with candidates contesting in the Chennai South constituency on April 14. Harsha Koda, coordinator, FOMRRA, said, “The meeting will include candidates namely the AIADMK’s J Jayavardhan, DMK’S Tamilachi Thangapandian, and others from the NTK, AMMK, MNM besides independents. They will all talk in slots of 10-15 minutes after which there will be questions raised by the resident representatives. We want to know about their vision for the constituency before electing them. It is assumed that middle class voters don’t vote, but we have decided as a federation that we all will vote in this election. This meeting is a win-win situation for all of us.”