Chennai: With most of the political parties pulling out of the local body bypolls, the atmosphere was markedly low-key in Chennai. There was poor voter turnout even in districts where city mayors were to be elected. Both Coimbatore and Thoothukudi witnessed polling of 53.89 and 46.51 per cent respectively. In case of municipal areas, Vridhachalam recorded a good turn out, with 67.43 per cent polling, followed by Ramanathapuram which recorded 54.57 per cent. Arakkonam and Cuddalore district recorded 45 and 59.62 per cent respectively.
Earlier in the day, State Election Commissioner S. Ayyar had visited polling booths in ward 35 of the Chennai corporation where polling had gone off peacefully. Meanwhile, the CPI(M) and BJP alleged large-scale rigging by the ruling AIADMK. “The election was not held in a free and fair manner as directed by the Madras high court,” state BJP president Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan said, alleging that the election had been ‘biased’ and condemning the attacks on her partymen.
State CPI(M) secretary G. Ramakrishnan alleged that the AIADMK functionaries captured booths and rigged votes. “We need fresh polls, particularly in ward-35 of Chennai corporation,” he said in a statement. “In rural pockets of Ramanathapuram, Vridhachalam and Tiruvallur areas, the polling was encouraging, some areas surpassing 60 per cent, which is a good turnout for local body bypolls,” said an SEC official while compiling the statewide reports pouring in from rural and urban pockets of the state.
J. Arokiaraj, an auto driver at Koyambedu, recalled how the last local body polls had the SEC witness tense moments with its headquarters thronging with injured cadres from different parties. “But today, there was a large posse of policemen there, reminding me that bypolls were on.”...
Location: Tamil Nadu