TN Assembly elections | Amma has trained us well to face elections, says Jayakumar

Contending that party functionaries have been “well-trained by Amma (Jayalalithaa)”, he acknowledges that as a leader she remains incomparable.

Fisheries Minister, five-time Royapuram MLA and member of AIADMK steering committee, D Jayakumar is confident of facing this Assembly election though the ruling party does not have a towering leader like former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

Contending that party functionaries have been “well-trained by Amma (Jayalalithaa)”, he acknowledges that as a leader she remains incomparable. “We are following the style of campaigning and people-approach that she has taught us. Even the manifesto has been crafted in such a manner that she would do. So much so, not just the people but also those in the party believe that Amma (Ms. Jayalalithaa) is with us,” Mr Jayakumar, who is seeking re-election from the constituency in north Chennai, told The Hindu.

After Jayalalithaa’s death the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol was frozen, “but we are now united and working towards the victory of the party for the third time,” he said.

The former Speaker practically knows everyone in each home in his constituency. He is now moving across his constituency on two-wheelers and autorickshaws and campaigning and interacting among his voters.

“I was born and brought up here. I remember we used to have so many hutsat Timothy Road, V.N.Pettai, Indira Nagar and MGR Nagar which would be gutted due to small kitchen fires. After I won the first time in 1991, I ensured that those huts were converted to concrete houses. The area used to be notorious for anti-social elements too but now all that has changed,” he said.

“We have Metro Rail connectivity thanks to Amma, who was gracious enough to include our area in the line when I asked her. Daily around 3,500 autorickshaws ply on our roads and 50,000 persons travel to Royapuram. The Metro rail comes as a blessing and will reduce congestion on the roads,” he said.

He said he has been dividing time between campaigning in his constituency and ensuring the party does well in the constituencies that he is in-charge.

Questioned about complaints of bad road stretches and issues with water supply in certain pockets, Mr. Jayakumar said he spent the MLA LADS fund on upgrading infrastructure and prevented flooding and power cuts during monsoon. He said steps were on to sort out other issues.

According to him, ₹150 crore was spent to upgrade the Kasimedu fishing harbour. “In the next round of expansion, we are planning the setting up of a fisheries hub. This would ensure better rates for the fish caught here,” he said adding fishing harbours would be set up at Tiruvottiyur, Kanniyakumari, Chengalpet and Villupuram. He promised setting up processing facilities for seaweed and other schemes for fishermen.

As far as the Scheduled Tribe status for fishermen is concerned, Jayalalithaa had announced it and it is up to the Central government to implement it. “We have been pressing for the same and will continue to do so until our fishermen get it,” he said.

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