Gummudipoondi is primarily known for SIPCOT, an industrial park that throws open opportunities for men and women across classes.

Pictures by Divya Karthikeyan
news TN 2016 Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 15:34

In Gummudipoondi, men are readying the campaign dais for Vijayakant on his first run, wrapping red, yellow and black ribbons around towering poles. A group of college girls, and women with their children, watch while they wait for their buses, clutching ice cream cones. Just a day after the DMK manifesto was announced, the milk subsidy is a hot topic among the group, but adulteration is a concern. 

The conversation shifts to prohibition and husbands. “You college girls won’t know how exhausting it is to come home to someone who drinks, even occasionally,” says Sudha, a homemaker. For some women, she says, stories of abuse are not the only trigger, but even simply the frustration of having their hard earned money taken away from them and wasted on alcohol. 

Gummudipoondi is largely an industrial town in Thiruvallur district. It is known primarily for SIPCOT, the industrial park that throws open various opportunities for men and women of various classes, from engineers to daily wage labourers. Sitting DMDK MLA and local businessman CH Sekar had secured nearly 1 lakh votes (55 per cent of the vote share) in 2011, and won with a margin of more than 30,000 votes – an impressive feat for the DMDK MLA.

But people are largely nonplussed. “His face was familiar then, and frankly the votes swung because people here were tired of both Dravidian parties, even the ones who vote for one party by tradition. But it could be different this time,” says Veena, a resident.


Now a rebel MLA, Sekar is contesting on a DMK ticket. “Amma is getting slightly popular now, being a woman and against prohibition and all,” Veena says, adding, “But who knows, we might just vote for Vijayakant because he makes us laugh.”

Gummudipoondi was AIADMK's stronghold for two years before DMDK, but here the vote is known to generally swing. "Sekar is a businessman, and he does a lot for the SIPCOT here, probably why the sentiment changed," Veena says.

Further away from the town, near a SIPCOT area, a group of 50 women labourers are huddled over an attendance sheet under the shade of a neem tree. “If you want to ask who I support,” a woman answers, “ask my husband, I support whomever he does.”

Clocking in 6 hours of work a day, they receive Rs 130 for daily labour, which the women say, go into their husband’s hands. “They also work, but they drink all our money away. I thought having a job, meant having something to myself,” Tamizh says. Tamizh has been married 7 years and is ridiculing the Wi-Fi announcement by the DMK and DMDK parties.

“I think it’s a big joke, I hardly get power in my hut, and they want to offer free Wi-Fi. Our MLA hasn’t even fixed our power issues, and now this?” says Bhavani, a young woman who had joined work a few months ago. 

A union, the women say, is what they want. “We don’t have roads, because the MLA was too busy sprucing up the town. The surrounding villages are in need of so much work,” Bhavani continues. With the authorities, it has been quite a tussle. After the floods, 200 villagers marched to the councilor and asked for their demands of a school and a hospital to be met. “We have a hospital now, but what’s the use of one if there are no doctors or nurses?” Tamizh laments. 


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