Election fever grips Tamil Nadu as nominations close
Deccan Chronicle.| G Babu Jayakumar & D Sekar
Seeing crowds streaming in since morning the election authorities decided to issue tokens till 5 pm and continue it even after office hours
With less than two weeks left after that for the polling on February 19, campaigning is expected to be a hectic affair. (Representational image/DC)
Chennai: The mad scramble to file nominations for the 12,838 wards in 649 urban local bodies across the State on the last day for nominations marked the beginning of a pitched electoral battle that will see not just the prime parties, the DMK and AIADMK, but also the smaller ones reaching out to the people through all means.
All premises of local body offices that were receiving nominations bustled with people on Friday since many candidates were waiting for the official lists of their parties to be released. The DMK’s list for the prestigious Chennai Corporation came out only late at 10 pm on Thursday, giving not much time for the nominees to get ready with the relevant papers and rush to meet the returning officers.
Candidates of many other parties, too, chose the last day for various reasons that led to the chaos in many places, even requiring police interventions occasionally. Though the police were alert in Chennai and did not allow huge groups to march towards the returning officers, smaller towns witnessed spectacles that were unbecoming of the Covid protocols put in place by the authorities.
Local bands of musicians and folk dancers accompanied some candidates as they marched with supporters to submit their papers. In Trichy a candidate’s attempt to barge into the office premises perched on top of a bullock cart was thwarted by the police through a timely intervention.
In Vellore a minor scuffle was witnessed when cadre of the DMK and NTK were marching towards the new Corporation office. With the group that was ahead not giving way for the one that was following it, an argument broke out leading to fisticuffs. Police immediately separated the groups.
One reason for the mad rush on the last day was also due to the lists of some parties coming out only on Friday and also because many aspirants whose names were not in the lists decided to file papers as independents, hoping to sort out the matter with the leaders.
Seeing the crowds streaming in since morning the election authorities decided to issue tokens till 5 pm and continue collecting the nominations even after office hours. So the final picture on the line up of candidates would emerge only after the withdrawal of nominations on February 7.
With less than two weeks left after that for the polling on February 19, campaigning is expected to be a hectic affair, what with the new restrictions on meetings and also groups going for door-to-door canvassing announced by the State Election Commission (SEC).
Though it is too early to know the possible candidates for the top posts of Mayors, Municipal Chairpersons and Town Panchayat chairpersons, speculations were being made based on the lists announced by the parties, which revealed that the DMK and AIADMK were in a direct fight in 165 wards.
Since the Chennai Mayor’s post has been reserved for a Scheduled Caste woman, the question as to who might get the opportunity to contest as the DMK candidate is in the minds of many. A couple of women nominated by the party are said to be likely contestants for the top job, sources said.
Tamilarasi Somu, contesting from ward No 183 in Sholinganallur, and Kayalvizhi Jayakumar from ward No 179 in Virugambakkam were touted as potential Mayoral candidates if the DMK-led alliance wins most of the 200 wards in Chennai.
The other leaders of DMK who are in the race for ward councilors are aspiring for the Deputy Mayor’s post and there are too many of them, too. Is ex-MLA Alexander of Ambattur one of them, many wonder.
In the other Corporations, some prominent leaders being nominated to fight in the ward elections have given rise to the speculation that they might be prepared to contest for the indirect Mayor election that would be held on March 4.
Former MLA K N Sekaran contesting in Trichy, Ex-MLA Gunasekaran and Jegan Periyaswamy, brother of Minister Geetha Jeevan in Thoothukudi are some of the candidates who have to be watched.
Though some leaders like AIADMK’s Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam have announced tour plans, it is doubtful if they would be able to address rallies. Even Chief Minister M K Stalin is expected to concentrate on speaking to voters through video conference.