AIADMK, DMK face challenges in leather hub

Vellore(TN), May 13: In this leather hub of Tamil Nadu, the electoral battle is proving hard for ruling AIADMK due to several local issues, including those related to tanneries and drinking water, while opposition DMK too is bogged down by intra-party affairs in some constituencies.

Vaniyambadi and Ambur towns are home to some of the best tanneries and shoe making enterprises in the country and a sizeable chunk of people are Muslims and workers dependent on the leather industry.

These two towns and Ranipet are the prime constituencies where such industries employ a large number of people.

However, workers and employers have their own cup of woes. S Muthu Kumar, a tannery worker and resident of Vaniyambadi, told PTI, “many employees have now become jobless or there is no work on all days of the week due to issues like pollution.”

Kumar, who tans sheep skin, says there is not much scope for other types of jobs and is unhappy that government did not “do its bit” to address their problems like low wages.

Amanullah of Vaniyambadi Tanners Association said such a scenario was due to scaling down of production. “We have toned down production as there are some issues in ensuring 100 per cent effluent treatment,” he told PTI.

“We are hopeful of scaling up production soon after we upgrade effluent treatment capabilities,” he said.

Asked about these concerns , AIADMK functionaries cited legal and environmental issues and listed party chief Jayalalithaa’s assurances like Amma Collateral Guarantee Fund at Rs 100 crore, Amma Venture Capital Fund and interest free loans under Amma Banking Card which can be availed by sections of people, including working classes.

In Vaniyambadi, AIADMK candidate Nilofer Kafeel, who is chairperson of Vaniyambadi Municipality, is quite popular.

DMK has allocated the seat to its ally, Indian Union Muslim League, whose nominee is Syed Farooq.

While both parties are active, AIADMK has considerable presence even in remote villages like Alangayam. Ruling party workers dismissed some property related charges cited by DMK against Nilofer, saying it is a family dispute and has nothing to do with public life.

Former Congress MLA C Gnanasekaran is contesting from Vaniyambadi as a candidate of TMC, the party led by former Union Minister G K Vasan.

In Ambur,where DMK has given the seat to ally Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (VR Nazeer Ahmed is MMK nominee), voices of dissent have emerged in the Karunanidhi-led party.

A party functionary who did not want to be named said that in all elections, the seat goes to an ally. “This time we were hoping the seat would be held back for a DMK nominee.”

“After the intervention of senior functionaries, there is a semblance of quiet and we have been firmly told to work hard for MMK’s victory,” he told PTI.