HR professional throws hat into poll ring

April 3rd, 2009 - 10:43 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, April 3 (IANS) He founded India’s largest recruitment firm. Having placed over 200,000 people in jobs around the world, K. Pandiarajan is now looking for a place in the Lok Sabha for himself.

He is the nominee of the DMDK, the party started by Tamil film star Vijayakanth, from the Virudhunagar constituency in Tamil Nadu, around 450 km from here.

The 49-year-old founder of Ma Foi Management Consultants Limited, a recruitment firm, thinks he may be the first entrepreneur from the human resource (HR) industry to contest for a Lok Sabha seat.

Pandiarajan has sold a majority of his stake in Ma Foi to the Netherlands-based Vedior, which was later merged with Randstad. He is now managing director of Randstad India. He has also harked back to his days as a students’ union leader at PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, and has entered the electoral fray for the first time.

“I thought it is time to use my domain experience to be part of the political system that draws the national policies, a view endorsed by my wife Latha,” he told IANS.

Pandiarajan joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2000 but shifted to the DMDK in 2007.

“In Captain, I saw a high degree of clarity in terms of positioning the party. He is simple and has a high degree of communication effectiveness and I felt we could vibe well,” said Pandiarajan. Vijayakanth is often called Captain after his movie “Captain Prabhakaran”.

Pandiarajan is aware that he is up against the DMK-Congress alliance on one side and the AIADMK-PMK-Left combine on the other. He still sounds confident.

“Mark my words. Our party will increase its vote share by at least 12 percent to 20 percent in this election as against the eight percent it got in the last assembly elections.

“After the Lok Sabha elections, we will be one of the top 10 political parties in India and be at par with major political parties in the state.”

The DMDK hopes to win five Lok Sabha seats of which Virudhunagar is one. It is dominated by three castes - Thevars, Nadars and Naickers. Dalits and several Telugu speaking communities make up the rest of the voters, more or less.

“In the last assembly elections this constituency gave us around 14.3 percent votes. Since then many people have joined our party. Our party will secure not less than 350,000 votes this time out of 985,000 votes,” Pandiarajan, a Nadar himself, said on his poll chances.

There are many industrial areas in Virudhunagar, including the well-known fireworks manufacturing centre, Sivakasi. Pandiarajan hails from Vilampatti village near Sivakasi. It is a largely urbanised area now, he pointed out. “There are eight municipalities falling under it.”

Pandiarajan is reaching out to the young voters through SMSes. An online group has been formed by his friends. Plus, there is the conventional campaign strategy - addressing meetings, putting up posters and so on.”

Vijayakanth will campaign here for three days, showing the importance the party accords to this Lok Sabha seat.

What is Pandiarajan fighting for? “Rejuvenation of agricultural and industrial sectors, development of HR, reducing unemployment levels, infrastructure development and nurturing communal harmony,” he replied.

“The Virudhunagar constituency has not seen any major irrigation schemes, no high-tech farming practices. Most of the industries - printing, fireworks, edible oil and others - are over 60 years old and there has been no attempt to bring in new sectors here. Aruppukottai could have been the knitwear capital instead of Tirupur.”

He plans to focus on women’s empowerment, for which he will develop self-help groups.

But, of course, his pet theme is employment. “Though education level amongst the youth in Virudhunagar is fairly high, employability and unemployment is an issue. My focus will be on bringing the skill development initiative of the union government here.”

Two months ago, he set up six career counselling centres in the area, and started extending micro-finance assistance to women’s self-help groups. His famed ability to find jobs for others may stand him in good stead in this time of recession.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at

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