Innumerable branches of nationalised banks and ATMs dot the region as you drive down from Madurai proclaiming the hold of Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who had won seven times from this rural constituency to go to Parliament.
But this time, he is involved in a hard battle to see that his son Karti makes his debut in Lok Sabha, made harder by the fact that the Congress party is friendless and is ploughing a lonely furrow in the April 24 election.
Traditional rivals DMK and AIADMK and the BJP are involved in a red hot contest to snatch the seat from Congress which had held it from 1980, except in 1996 and 1998 when it was held by Chidambaram as a representative of TMC, which was, of course, an offshoot of Congress.
Chidambaram himself chose not to contest from Sivaganga this time giving grist to the opposition mill to take pot shots at Congress’ woes in the current election nationally but he remains unfazed.
His theme is that the party has chosen to induct and try a youth in the constituency and that if Karti wins here the people will get “two representatives” for them– father and son, a sort of buy one, get one free.
However, there is an odd criticism that Chidambaram did very little for the development of Sivaganga, which is yet to shed the tag of backwardness.
The main issues raked up by rivals are unemployment and lack of development.
Chidambaram contests the charge vehemently, saying the expansion and proliferation of the banking sector in his constituency has improved the access of the poor people to financial services making it inclusive.
42-year-old Karti, a Chennai-based Harvard-educated businessman, is waging a Herculean battle against dominant parties AIADMK and DMK and a candidate belonging to BJP which has managed to cobble up a decent coalition in a bid to ride on the Modi factor.