Thousand Lights: ‘Provide basic facilities instead of freebies’

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Thousand lights, a high-profile constituency in Central Chennai, has been a stronghold of the DMK with the party coming to power in the constituency in seven out of eleven  assembly elections. DMK leader M.K. Stalin was the MLA here from 1996-2011. AIADMK’s B. Valarmathi won by a margin of  8,000 votes from here in 2011.

Thousand Lights or Aayiram Vilakku constituency comprises Periyar Nagar (North), Periyar Nagar(South), Nungambakkam, Ko-Si-Mani Nagar, Nakkeerar Nagar, Thousand Lights, Azhagiri Nagar, Royapettah, Teynampet, Sathiyamoorthy Nagar, Vadapalani (East) and Kalaivanar Nagar.

Candidates Independent candidates
Valarmathi B (AIADMK)

Selvam Ku. Ka (DMK)

Shivalingam M. (BJP)

Rangan V. (PMK)

Ambigapathy C. (MDMK)

Murugesan S. (NTK)

Elango M. (YSP)

Iyyanar C.

Karthik D.

Kumar K.

Gokulakrishnan E.

Santhakumar K.

Selvam T.

Selvam R.

Dhananjayan T. S.

Manikandan A.

Murugan S.

Mogan Kumar S. P.

Ramesh A.

Arunthathi Ramachandran

Jaffer Sadik J.

Know your candidates

Valarmathi (AIADMK)

Valarmathi, the incumbent minister for Social Welfare and Nutritious Noon Meal, had defeated DMK’s Hasan Mohamed Jinnah by a close margin of 8,000 votes. This three-time MLA is a resident of K.K.Nagar. The minister’s campaigns highlight ‘Amma’s welfare schemes’, During the last elections, she had promised to look into the “immediate requirement of basic facilities such as housing and toilets.”

She was recently in the news when the the Election Commission of India issued a notice on complaints of defamation by DMK on her speech in Salem.

Ku. Ka. Selvam (DMK)

Ku. Ka. Selvam is a senior political leader from T. Nagar. He is the secretary of the NGO Arignar Anna Pothu Nala Mandram (AAPNM). The DMK is counting on the minority votes in this constituency given its alliance with the Indian Union Muslim League and Manithaneya Makkal Katchi.

2011 Results

Candidate Party Votes Status
B Valarmathi AIADMK 67522 Won
Hasan Mohamed Jinnah DMK 59930 Lost
M Sivalingam (Photo Siva) BJP 3098 Lost
Thiwan Muhammedu Nahib IJK 849 Lost
C Arjunan PB 409 Lost

Key concerns

Thousand Lights has a mix of residential localities, busy commercial areas, and a number of slums. Candidates here are trying to woo the voters with the promise of infrastructure development and welfare measures. However, regular water supply, clean toilets, and sanitation continue to be the main concerns of residents in many parts of the constituency.

As the campaigns gain momentum, the voters seem rather amused with the election theatrics that they witness. Recently, for example, the sitting MLA had bathed a boy at a public fountain during her campaign here.

“The government schemes and infrastructure facilities do not benefit us. The residents of upmarket localities are given priority, while we are neglected,” says Lakshmi S. from Greams Road.  “We don’t have proper toilet facilities. Garbage piles up and the Cooum river is always dirty. We have to put up with strong stench all the time,”  she says. 

“Though we have ration cards and ID cards, it is very difficult for us to get access to government schemes and services. The government offices are not accessible to us and we have to languish months or even years to get things done,” says another resident who wishes to remain anonymous.

Like residents of slums in other constituencies in Chennai, people are worried about the plan to relocate them to the Tami Nadu Slum Clearance Board houses.  “The houses allotted to us are far way from the city. We work in the nearby localities and we have better access to facilities here. If we move away from here, we will lose the job opportunities available in the city,” says Sathya P. from Thousand Lights.

G.Radha from Gopalapuram says, “We don’t want freebies. Regular supply of drinking water, electricity, sanitation, and access to government services are more important.”  Many residents pointed out that the free goods like grinders and mixies were of low quality, and did not last long.

The ongoing Metro Rail construction work adds to the traffic snarls in the area, especially during the peak hours. Construction of flyovers and subways are among the promises made by the candidates this time.  

Voting history

Madras State

Year Winner Party
1952 Sivashanmugam Pillai and Venkatasami Naidu Independent and Indian National Congress
1957 A. V. P. Asaithambi Independent
1962 K. A. Mathialagan Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
1967 K. A. Mathiazhagan Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

Tamil Nadu

Assembly Duration Winner Party
Fifth 1971-77 K. A. Mathialagan Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Sixth 1977-80 S. J. Sadiq Pasha Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Seventh 1980-84 K. A. Krishnaswamy All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Eighth 1984-89 K. A. Krishnaswamy All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Ninth 1989-91 M. K. Stalin Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Tenth 1991-96 K. A. Krishnaswamy All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Eleventh 1996-01 M. K. Stalin Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Twelfth 2001-06 M. K. Stalin Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Thirteenth 2006-2011 M. K. Stalin Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
Fourteenth 2011-Incumbent B. Valarmathi All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
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About Supriya Unni Nair 23 Articles
Nileena is an alumnus of Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. She has a deep and abiding interest in civic and development issues. Nileena can be reached at

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