Battle lines drawn in Tamil Nadu\'s urban local body polls

Former AIADMK Minister R B Udhayakumar said a candidate Indirani was missing and that DMK men had abducted her

Chennai: Major political parties managed to convince rebels from their ranks to withdraw their nominations for the urban local body elections on Monday, the last day for withdrawal that saw many persons calling on the returning officers and leaving the fray, clearing the field for official candidates.

However there were complaints of rival candidates being abducted and forced to sign papers for withdrawing nominations, too. Former AIADMK Minister R B Udhayakumar made such an allegation regarding his party’s candidate for the 9th ward in Vadipatti Town Panchayat of Madurai district.

He said the candidate Indirani was missing and that DMK men had abducted her and taken an undertaking that she was withdrawing herself from the race and even held a dharna in front of the election office.

Otherwise, campaigning by the candidates started in earnest with small groups visiting the voters at the doorstep as other means of electioneering had been banned by the State Election Commission (SEC).

The SEC has also appointed flying squads to check transport of cash and articles meant for distribution to voters. Between January 30 and February 4, cash and articles worth Rs 4,90,75,798 had been seized, an SEC press release said.

While cash worth Rs 3,53,91,443 was seized in the checks, 37 laptops, 4 iPhones, footwear, towels, silk and synthetic sarees and gifts worth Rs 1,20,89,390 were also caught during transportation. The liquor bottles confiscated during the searches have been valued at Rs 15,94,965.

Chief Minister M K Stalin addressed a digital meeting, beamed through video conference facilities to 526 centres in Salem district and said the DMK wanted to sweep the elections to 21 Corporations, 138 Municipalities and 490 Town Panchayats to provide good governance to the people all over the State.

He gave a long list of things that the DMK had implemented in the State after coming to power last year and said ‘let our rule continue in the local bodies, too.’ Though he would like to meet them personally and seek their votes, he was restraining himself due to the Coronavirus restrictions, he said.

In a letter to party cadre, Stalin stressed on carrying out the campaign through WhatsApp messages, saying among all the social media channels WhatsApp had the widest reach among the people. However, he wanted the candidates and cadre to reach out to the people and seek their votes personally,

However, he urged the cadre to exercise restraint and not to react to the provocations of the rivals, who, he said, might stoop to any level to denigrate the party and them. He also wanted the candidates to adhere to SEC norms carefully.

Other party leaders like AIADMK’s Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam were visiting places and holding meetings to introduce the candidates to the voters and also campaign for their victory. Palaniswami was in Kancheepuram on Monday and Panneerselvam was in Sivakasi.

BJP State President K Annamalai has also a schedule of his tour and according to it he was in Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Erode and Salem on Monday.

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