The potential Mayoral candidates of the DMK have also not been revealed though there are speculations aplenty. (PTI)
Chennai: Filing of nominations for the February 19 Urban Local Body elections picked up momentum on Wednesday as political candidates started presenting papers with their parties releasing the lists one after another by sorting out the differences among the allies and also within the party local units.
In what has emerged as an eight-cornered contest, the real fight is likely to be between the alliances led by the DMK and AIADMK, while six others - BJP, PMK, DMDK, MNM, NTK and AMMK - are going it alone in the race to gain power in 21 Corporations, 138 Municipalities and 490 Town Panchayats.
The DMK that has in its camp an assortment of parties like the Congress, the VCK, CPI, CPM, IUML, MNMK, TVK and KMDK had been struggling to finalise the candidates lists, though the talks were held at the district level.
Complaints were raised at various levels by alliance partners over less representation for them in the list on a daily basis, delaying the DMK in naming its nominees for Chennai Corporation, the most prestigious of all the 649 urban local bodies that are going to polls.
The potential Mayoral candidates of the DMK have also not been revealed though there are speculations aplenty. Since the top post has been reserved for a Scheduled Caste Woman, there are not too many in the reckoning.
The AIADMK, however, overcame the problem by roping in former IAS officer P Sivagami’s Samuga Samathuva Padai without any formal announcement. The name of Sivagami in the party’s list confirmed that she would be its Mayoral candidate in the event of it having a chance to win the indirect election by the elected councilors on March 4.
Since Chennai is seeing an election for its 354-year-old Corporation after six long years, most of the local party functionaries had turned aspirants for tickets to contest from their wards, something which became tricky for the major parties to deal with while picking candidates, particularly the AIADMK.
Though the AIADMK did not have any major party as an ally after the PMK and BJP left the coalition, its leaders were faced with the task of tackling their own disgruntled party functionaries, while being able to make allotments to the allies, TMC, Puratchi Bharatham, the New Justice Party and the Samuga Samathuva Padai, without much hassle.
Among the lone rangers, Kamal Hassan’s MNM, which was the first to release a list of candidates, has already come out with eight lists and has also got the ‘Torch Light’ symbol, in which it had contested the earlier Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, for the coming polls.
PMK, led by S Ramadoss, has also announced candidates, most of whom have started filing their papers. It is also the case with the BJP, Vijaykanth’s DMDK, Seeman’s NTK and T T V Dinakaran’s AMMK, who are releasing lists.
While the PMK is keen on contesting only in their northern Tamil Nadu belt where it enjoys popularity and the AMMK, too, is selective of its wards, all the other parties want to field candidates all over the State, which makes the task of identifying candidates for all the 12,838 seats rather daunting.
Though the smaller parties see an opportunity to activate their cadre and make them establish contacts with the voters all over the State through the elections, top leaders are unlikely to tour the entire State and meet the people this time.
Even the plans of Chief Minister M K Stalin, the AIADMK top honchos O Panneerselvam and Edapaddi K Palaniswami and Kamal Haasan to go all over the State to canvass for votes is unlikely to happen due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
The leaders had been advised to hold campaign meetings through video conference, though they would like to visit at least some places personally and address the voters.
In fact, most of the campaign is expected to be through digital platforms with social media taking the top position. But it is unclear if it would be feasible for all candidates for the 1374 Corporation wards, 3,843 Municipal wards and 7,621 Town Panchayat wards to undertake such a campaign.