For 36-year-old Deepan Arun, conquering skies as a pilot seems to be insufficient. After spending 12 years travelling across the world, working for different airlines, Deepan is back home in Tamil Nadu for good, to contest in the elections to the Parliament. Though this will be the first time he is facing polls, politics is nothing new to this heir of a seasoned politician, M Arunachalam.
Born in Tenkasi and brought up in Delhi and Chennai, Deepan Arun experienced different cultures of the world and hopes this will help him work towards the welfare of his people in Tenkasi, as he makes his electoral debut.
A picturesque town in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, Tenkasi is known for Courtallam waterfalls. The Tenkasi Lok Sabha constituency, which consists of six assembly segments, is reserved for candidates from the Scheduled Castes (SC).
Currently, this seat is held by M Vasanthi of AIADMK.
âThe people of Tenkasi needed meâ
Speaking to TNM about his political dreams, Deepan says that it was the request from the people of Tenkasi that inspired him to contest the election.
âOne of the major complaints that the people said in unison was that they have never seen their MP,â he says. âThe people here still hold my father in high regard and hence take the liberty to share how they feel about their current MP,â Deepan adds.
Late M Arunachalam served as the MP from Tenkasi constituency for six consecutive terms and was also a Union Minister. He was a Congress supporter until he joined Tamil Maanila Congress (Moopanar) and won the 11th Lok Sabha election in 1996. He later rejoined the Congress when GK Moopanar of TMC aligned with Puthiya Tamizhagam party in the 1999 General election.
âEmpowering our farmersâ
Deepan comes from an agricultural family. He made his land a model to practise vermicomposting, he claims. And so, for Deepan, laying the groundwork for the election is nothing new.
âWe used to run a trust named Rajiv Gandhi Rural Development Trust, and conduct a lot of courses. Although the trust is defunct now, we continued to work under this name. We teamed up with EXNORA as well as some organic farming experts, to educate the farmers on the benefits of organic farming. We created awareness and trained farmers on vermicomposting and production of manure using composting. In fact, we adopted the vermicomposting practice ourselves to inspire the farmers,â he says.
âWe believe the impact could be much higher if we are in power. And, that is another reason why I decided to contest the elections this time,â he says.
âRoads, youth and women, our prime focusâ
Deepan aims to address the problems of improper roadways in his constituency, if elected as an MP. âTenkasi is seeing a lot more cars than before. But, are the roads equipped to deal with this density of cars? I donât think so. Of course, this problem is not unique to Tenkasi alone, but there has to be a starting point to address such issues, right?â he says.
Deepan also wants to bring a government college to Tenkasi to make college education accessible to those from an underprivileged background. âI will also take steps to develop cottage industries in this region, arrange for self-defence classes for girls and women, make way to empower them financially and make them independent,â he adds.
Due to elections, his work to address the water problems in the town are on hold. âBut I plan to use the water from Courtallam falls throughout the year, in a manner that is useful to the farmers in the region,â he says.
âTrack record of Congress, DMK never been goodâ
While the DMK is fielding Dhanush Kumar this time, the AIADMK has allocated the constituency to its ally Puthiya Thamizhagam, whose candidate K Krishnasamy will contest from the constituency.
Speaking about his opponents in the fray this time, Deepan says that the track record of Congress and DMK have not been good in Tenkasi since his fatherâs death.
Tenkasi was a Congress bastion between 1957 and 1991.
âThe Congress failed miserably in the 2009 and 2014 general elections. This time, however, the Congressâs ally, the DMK, has decided to contest from the seat. But, DMK has never won from Tenkasi. The only time they contested from here was in 1991 and they lost it,â says Deepan.
âThe Congress fails to understand that my father has a large number of supporters because heâs been an MP from here multiple times. We have had, in fact, approached the Congress many times but did not get any productive response,â he adds.
Though Deepan says that he is on an equal footing with the other contenders for the chair this election, he adds that his education, world-knowledge and ground connect might give him an edge over the others.
âLegacy alone is not enough. I am a candidate in my own right since my father passed away 14 years ago. I am contesting as an independent and not on any partyâs ticket. I can even speak in Hindi and that would increase the negotiation power in the Centre, in Tenkasiâs favour, if I am elected,â he says.