Tamil Nadu local body elections: Nominations pickup on penultimate day

Many candidates kick started their campaigns just as they emerged from the returning officer’s chambers

Chennai: The penultimate day of filing nominations for the urban local body elections saw a mad rush of candidates presenting their papers, raising allegations of non-adherence to Covid protocols at various places, though not all parties could finalise their complete list of nominees for the February 19 polls.

Haggling for seats continued in the DMK-led alliance and the party was unable to release its final list for Chennai till about 9 pm though it had come out with half a score of lists for various local bodies in the past few days after the seat-sharing talks started at the district level.

Rebellion over non-allotment of seats for the allies in what they believed as their pocket boroughs was reported from many places leading to many local leaders of alliance parties filing nominations as independents, hoping that they would be named as official candidates.

Such incidents happened with leaders of Congress not willing to give up wards that they had nurtured over the years in places like Kanyakumari districts and those of IUML and Manithaneya Makkal Katchi in some Muslim dominated areas.

Since the AIADMK, which does not have too many allies, has finalized the lists, most of the nominees filed their papers with the returning officers, causing chaos in many local body offices as they went in big groups, giving a go by to norms issued by the State Election Commission (SEC).

Candidates of the BJP, which is plowing a lonely furrow, also lined up to file their papers for the polls and so did most of the other aspirants, including independents, in all the 12,838 wards in 21 Corporations, 138 Municipalities and 490 Town Panchayats.

A similar rush is expected on the last day on Friday as many aspirants of party tickets were eagerly waiting for the official lists. In many places, media persons were getting regular calls to know if the list for the particular town or city had been released by the parties as the aspirants were preparing themselves to file the nominations even at short notice.

But the delay in the release of the DMK’s final list for Chennai Corporation, considered to be the most prestigious among the 490 local bodies going to the polls, was causing more anxiety to many party cadre and functionaries.

Two candidates in Chennai drew the attention of many, one a 94-year-old social activist from Besant Nagar who is contesting as an independent to take up the local issues, which she has been doing any way for quite some time, and 21-year-old Priyadarshini, a member of the DYFI, who has been fielded by the CPM from 98th ward.

In the smaller Corporations like Trichy, Madurai, too, the Mayoral candidates for the main parties, the DMK and AIADMK, have not been made known though speculations were ripe on who could possibly be given the opportunity by going through the list of candidates for the wards.

Among the complaints that emanated from Madurai was one that State Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan’s personal assistant has been given a seat to contest from a ward and that some supporters of former Union Minister M K Alagiri have filed nominations and might take away the votes of the official DMK candidates.

Many candidates kick started their campaigns just as they emerged from the returning officer’s chambers heading straight to their constituencies, accompanied by two persons. The SEC has mandated that not more than 3 persons can go for door-to-door canvassing.

Top leaders like AIADMK head honchos, O Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami are expected to tour the State and hold hall meetings at select places and Chief Minister M K Stalin, too, would address a few meeting personally though the bulk of his campaign would be through video conference.

Meanwhile, the State Election Commission geared up for the D-day, identifying trouble-prone booths and arranging for the fixing of extra CCTV cameras there. As of now 600 of the total 5794 booths in Chennai Corporation have been declared as trouble-prone.

Besides the installation of over 6000 CCTV cameras at the booths, web cameras would also be fixed to enable the officials of SEC to keep a tab on the voting. Besides cameras have also been put up in the 54 centres where the EVMs would be kept in safe custody till they are taken out for counting on February 22.

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