CUDDALORE /CHENNAI/TIRUCHY: Hours after State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday announced a schedule to hold elections to rural local bodies alone on December 27 and December 30, main opposition DMK and its allies in Tamil Nadu dubbed the staggered polls (as elections to urban local bodies are to be announced later), unreasonable and bordering on the ludicrous.
“Tamil Nadu has always had a one-phase poll for the Lok Sabha, state Assembly village panchayats and nagar palikas (urban local bodies); but the SEC’s announcement early today that it will first hold elections to rural local bodies and then announce polls for others is amusing to say the least,” DMK president M K Stalin said, speaking to reporters after visiting rain-hit areas in Cuddalore district.
Mr Stalin, who was speaking to the media at Puducherry, was replying to a query on whether DMK would hold talks with its allies on seat-sharing for the rural local bodies as nominations for them are scheduled to open on December 6.
The DMK is readying a petition to be filed in the Supreme Court, perhaps on Tuesday or Wednesday, seeking direction to the State Election Commission to fist complete the delimitation process taking into account the recent birth of new districts (Chengalpet, Ranipet, Kallakurichi, Tenkasi, Tirupattur) and also setting right the old anomalies. The prayer to the top court would also include direction to the SEC to hold the elections simultaneously for both the urban and rural areas, instead of first finishing with the rural places as announced now, a top DMK source said.
He said the ruling party and the state government "are notorious for poll malpractices" and things could get worse if the local body elections are split up between the urban and rural areas. The court is likely to take up all the DMK’s poll-related petitions on Thursday, the DMK source said, pointing out that their leader M K Stalin has now said further course of action would depend on the court proceedings.
Refuting the “false narrative” built by the ruling AIADMK that it was the DMK which was posing hurdles against conducting the elections, Stalin said it was the ruling party which has been “postponing” the holding of the local bodies polls for the past three years. The present SEC notification was in the face of the apex court’s directive, even as AIADMK and its allies have been “hoping that somebody will move the court and get the elections stayed”. This was a “political game” going on, the DMK leader charged, adding, not just the DMK but leaders of several other parties have been demanding “proper conduct” of the polls.
With six new districts having been carved out, there was no information till date on how the delimitation of wards had been done, nor was the delimitation of wards for scheduled tribes/denotified communities and women completed, Later, in a statement in Chennai, DMK president Stalin, taking a swipe at the “political machinations” of the AIADMK led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, said his party was nonetheless ready to face the elections even if “the ruling party entered the fray with as much abuse of power as possible.”
Backing the DMK’s stand on the staggered poll notification for rural local bodies alone, the CPI state secretary R Mutharasan said the announcement was “unacceptable”. This shows the SEC was unable to function independently and this anti-democratic step was “condemnable”, he added.
The IUML national president Prof K M Khader Mohideendescribed the SEC’s notification “as strange”....