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KMP fields Dalit candidate in Nilgiris, says it is not casteist

Special Correspondent

COIMBATORE: The newly-formed Kongunadu Munnetra Peravai announced here on Tuesday a Dalit candidate for the Nilgiris Lok Sabha Constituency and disagreed with the view that it was an organisation of only the Kongu Vellala Gounders.

The candidate, 40-year-old S. Badhran, who belongs to the Arundhathiar community was introduced at a press briefing by KMP general secretary E.R. Easwaran. Mr. Badhran is a resident of Alankuttai at Annur in Coimbatore District. The area, however, comes under the Nilgiris constituency.

Mr. Easwaran hoped that at least now the other parties refrained from branding his organisation a party of one caste, the Gounders. “The Dalits are also under the wrong impression that ours is a casteist party. He alleged that many parties in the State had not done enough for the Arundhathiyars. The KMP wants to be different,” he said.

Asked why the KMP announced its nominee for the Nilgiris constituency almost a month after announcing those for 11 other seats in western Tamil Nadu, Mr. Easwaran said there were a number of aspirants for the Nilgiris seat.

Total revival of Hindustan Photo Films (HPF), improving the condition of the plantation workers, establishing a Government medical college and an arts college were among the top priorities for the KMP in the Nilgiris, he said. Mr. Easwaran accused sitting MP Mr. Prabhu (now contesting from Coimbatore) of not doing enough to revive HPF.

The KMP would soon lodge a complaint with the Election Commission against Coimbatore Mayor R. Venkatachalam over the latter speaking on behalf of Mr. Prabhu at a meet-the-candidates programme organised in the city by Divyodaya on Sunday. (Mr. Venkatachalam was representing Mr. Prabhu who could not make it to the meeting.)

“At the beginning of the meeting, he (the Mayor) read out a list of promises on behalf of Mr. Prabhu. He should not have done this. But, at the end of the meeting, he listed a number of development works that were pending and told the gathering that these works would be completed if they voted for the Congress candidate. This is a clear case of violation of the Model Code of Conduct,” Mr. Easwaran said.

The KMP general secretary also demanded that banks should not ask the small and micro industries to pay the monthly loan instalments till the power situation improved and enabled 100 per cent production.

At present, these units had only 50 per cent production because of the power crisis. They were unable to repay loans because of this problem and were closing down, he said.

Mr. Easwaran said the KMP would work to implement the long-pending Avanashi-Athikadavu water scheme. “Whether we win or lose, we will strive for the development of the Kongu region,” he declared.

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