CHENNAI: After a delay of three years, the state election commission on Monday announced polls to rural local bodies in Tamil Nadu in two phases on December 27 and 30. Polls to urban local bodies, such as corporations, municipalities and town panchayats, are likely to be held after Pongal.
The state election commissioner R Palanisamy said the election code of conduct had come into force immediately in all rural local bodies falling in 388 panchayat unions. “Due to administrative reasons, the polls for rural local bodies will be held first. An announcement will be made for urban local bodies soon,” the officer said, triggering sharp reactions from the opposition.
EPS refutes charge of oppn being kept in the dark
He said the separation of polls to rural and urban local bodies made a mockery of the elections and his party would take all efforts to ensure they areheldin a proper manner.
Palanisamy, who is also chairman of the delimitation commission, refuted the charge that political parties were not consulted ahead of notifying the delimitation and reservation of wards. Based on the draft delimitation carried out by the district authorities and collectors, the commission held a meeting in seven zones in the state between January and March last year and sought the views of parties and the public. “As many as 19,547 petitions were received and 7,785 accepted,” the commissioner said. The state issued an order recently that modification, if any, of local bodies in the newly constituted districts would be made after polls. Official sources said no panchayat or panchayat union was split when new districts were formed. Therefore, they were whole entities.
AIADMK sources said the election totheurban localbodies was put off as the party wanted to use its ‘resources’ in the rural areas. “The party wantstowin as many seats as possible in the rural areas and take up urban local bodies later with the same vigour to pull off wins like in the recent two bypolls. This may not be possible if rural and urban polls are held together,” said a minister seeking anonymity.
The party leaders pointed to the massive task of holding polls for 1.18 lakh posts in rural local bodies. At least 3.31 crore rural voters will have to elect four members — panchayat ward member and president on nonparty basis, and district panchayat ward member and panchayat union ward member on party basis. The commission woulddepute an election observer from theIAS in eachdistrictto oversee the elections.