Shadow of Sterlite on scion showdown in Tamil Nadu
Muthuselvi runs a small grocery store near V.O. Chidambaranar Port in Thoothukudi — the historic coastal city also known as Tuticorin famous for its pearl fishing — that hit the headlines last year for the killing of 14 protesters demanding the closure of a Sterlite Copper plant for environment pollution.
In her late-twenties, Muthuselvi says her business fell after demonetisation, and selling her homemade peanut candy to procurement agents became unprofitable after the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced. In the GST regime, she has to close her shop — which she runs with her ageing in-laws — and travel to the offices of the agents to complete tax formalities, which is not feasible. Hence, she has reduced production of candies, making a small amount that she sells from her store.
And like many families of Thoothukudi, she is upset with the AIADMK-run state government for the police firing last year on protesters demanding closure of the Sterlite plant. Muthuselvi, who insisted she still likes Prime Minister Narendra Modi — crediting him for “curbing black money”, and the beautification of the Port Trust area — said her vote will not be for him. The BJP is part of the AIADMK-led umbrella alliance which is being challenged by the DMK-Congress combine, which has fielded Kanimozhi, the daughter of late Dravidian stalwart M. Karunanidhi.
“How can a government kill so many people for protesting against pollution? Shouldn’t Modi have said something? I don’t know what work Kanimozhi will do, but she speaks well and promised that such killings will not happen, and the factories won’t pollute, if she wins,” said Muthuselvi.