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Katchatheevu,fishermen issue to dominate in Nagapattinam Lok Sabha elections

- April 16, 2024

Chennai ,April 16( IANS)

After the Katchatheevu issue was raised by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi ,there has been an added interest in the state on the issue with political parties raising allegations and counter allegations on the same.

In the Nagapattinam Lok Sabha constituency INDIA block has fielded, CPI leader , V.Selvaraj while the AIADMK candidate is Surjeet Sankar. BJP has given ticket to SGM Ramesh, son of late communist leader ,SG Murugaiyan.

Fishermen issue is dominating Nagapattinam Lok Sabha constituency which has a stretch of 187 kM of coastal area. Since January 1, 2024 around 124 fishermen of Tamil Nadu were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy and more than 20 mechanised boats costing crores of rupees impounded. Nagapattinam fishing hamlet has 1,064 mechanised boats which is the largest in the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the Katchatheevu issue and accused the Congress government of handing over the island to Sri Lanka in 1974 with the connivance of the DMK Chief Minister Karunanidhi. This has become a major political issue in the constituency.

Farming is another major vocation for the people of the constituency and falls in the tail end of the Cauvery Delta region. Around 1.37 hectares of Samba and Kuruvai paddy cultivation is being done in this region.

This makes the water from the Cauvery a major issue in this region and Karnataka denying Cauvery waters and the announcement of the construction of Mekedatu dam has caused apprehension among the farming community of the region.

This issue has put the INDIA block candidate and senior leader of CPI , V.Selvaraj on the back foot as the Congress which is a part of the INDIA block is in power in Karnataka.

It may be recalled that the Congress government of Tamil Nadu has allocated an amount of around Rs 8500 crore for the construction of Mekedatu dam in Cauvery river that would lead to a reduced flow of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu affecting the farming in Nagapattinam.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, CPI leader M.Selvarasu defeated M.Saravanan of the AIADMK by a margin of 2,11,353 votes.

The Nagapattinam Lok Sabha constituency consists of Nagapattinam, Kilvelur , Vedaranyam, Thiruthuraipoondi, Thiruvarur and Nannilam assembly seats.

In the 2021 assembly elections, the Nagapattinam assembly seat was won by Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) leader Aloor Shanavas who defeated the AIADMK leader , Thanka Kathiravan by a margin of 7238 votes.

Kilvelur assembly seat was won by Nagaimaali of the CPI-M in the 2021 assembly elections defeating PMK leader ,Vadivel Ravanan by a margin of 16,985 votes. In the ,Vedaranyam seat OS Manian of the AIADMK defeating SK Vedarathinam of the DMK by a margin of 12,329 votes.

Thiruthuraipoondi assembly seat was won by K.Marimuthu of the CPI in the assembly elections defeating his nearest rival , C.Suresh Kumar of the AIADMK by a margin of 30,068 votes.

DMK leader,K.Poondi Kalaivanan won the Thiruvarur assembly seat defeating his nearest rival , ANR Panneerselvam by a huge margin of 51,174 votes.

The Nannilam seat was won by R.Kamaraj of AIADMK who defeated his nearest DMK rival,S. Jothiraman of the DMK by a slender margin of 4424 votes.

This shows that the INDIA bloc candidates of VCK,DMK,CPI and CPI-M won four of the six assembly seats in 2021 assembly elections while the AIADMK which was in an alliance of PMK and BJP won two seats.

In the ensuing Lok Sabha elections, while there is a tight three cornered fight in the ground , the INDIA block led by the DMK has an edge. However the elections to the Lok Sabha is entirely different and assembly elections need not be taken as the bench mark.

The BJP candidate SGM Ramesh while speaking to IANS said, “The BJP is fighting to win the election and we have covered almost all the voters in the constituency and met as many voters as possible. We have showcased the exceptional rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the developmental initiatives taken up by the Modi government has given us a great connect with the people of Tamil Nadu. I strongly believe that there would be a shift in the psyche of voters in Tamil Nadu and we will win many seats including Nagapattinam.”

While the BJP leader exudes confidence in his victory from the seat, local people said that it would be a tough climb for him. However people said that by fielding the son of a highly respected Communist leader ,the BJP will cut into some votes.

K.R. Palainiappan ,a fisherman from Nagapattinam town while speaking to IANS said ,” The fishermen are regularly attacked by the Sri Lankan navy and many of our brethren are in jails and our costly mechanised boats are impounded leading to misery and poverty for us. Both the central and state governments were found wanting in this issue eventhough of late the central government has shown some interests in our issue.”

He said that the Prime Minister raising the Katchatheevu issue was accepted by the fishermen community and added that this has brought the issue in the centre stage and how and why the island which was part of the Ramanad kingdom was given away to the Sri Lankans on a platter.

R.Shakthivel,political analyst and psephologist based out of Tirunelveli while speaking to IANS said, “ Nagapattinam is a constituency which has a traditional support base for communists and the CPI candidate Selvaraj has an edge but after the Prime Minister raised the Katchatheevu issue ,the BJP has gained some ground and the BJP candidate SGM Ramesh hails from a communist family and could cut into some communist votes. AIADMK also has its traditional support base in the constituency but I feel that the CPI candidate has a lead right now.