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Campaign for Tamil Nadu urban civic polls ends, voting on Feb 19

|HT|


The high-decibel campaign by the ruling DMK and main opposition AIADMK besides others for the urban civic polls witnessed in the past 10 days in Tamil Nadu ended on Thursday and the stage is set for voting on February 19. The no-holds-barred campaign, especially during the past 10 days, ended at 6 PM across Tamil Nadu. As many as 57,778 candidates are in the fray for 12,607 posts of ward members in 648 urban local bodies.

However, a variation is likely considering the death of candidates in some wards. The TN State Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements to ensure peaceful voting on February 19 which includes appropriate security arrangements, moving EVMs to voting centres and flying squads. Counting of votes would commence on February 22.

Jibes, accusations and counter allegations on several issues including over the NEET dominated the urban civic poll campaign. While Chief Minister and DMK president M K Stalin accused the AIADMK as a 'comedy drama company,' the main opposition retorted saying the DMK is a 'corporate' company. The DMK, which is focusing on fulfilling majority of its promises made in the run-up to the 2021 Assembly election, and its allies are facing polls together.

However, it is the DMK which is fighting in most wards. During the campaign, the ruling party has repeatedly underscored fulfilling assurances including a cut of ₹3 per litre in milk prices, fare-free travel for women in town buses and ₹4,000 pandemic relief to people. It has also assured that other promises including the ₹1,000 assistance per month to women would be implemented soon.

AIADMK top leaders O Panneerselvam and K Palaniswami listed ₹1,000 per month assistance to women family heads, ₹100 subsidy for cooking gas cylinders and a cut in petrol prices among other assurances made ahead of last year's election by the DMK and slammed it for hoodwinking people by such 'false' promises. The duo appealed to people to vote for two-leaves symbol for good governance in local bodies. The BJP too is straining every nerve in a host of regions including Coimbatore and Kanyakumari to make a mark.

While Stalin addressed poll meetings virtually, the ruling party's Udhayanidhi Stalin, Kanimozhi, state ministers and key opposition AIADMK's top leaders K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam held physical campaigns across many regions of the state.

Though the contest appears multi-cornered, the key fight is between the DMK and the AIADMK in a big chunk of regions across the state. The DMK is seeking votes broadly based on its theme of 'our' governance in local bodies as well, and the AIADMK is targeting the ruling party for 'not fulfilling' its promises made last year.

In Coimbatore district, BJP Tamil Nadu unit chief K Annamalai alleged distribution of 'silver' coated anklet and 'hot box' by Karur-based DMK men to grab votes and appealed to people to bring a healthy change by voting for the lotus symbol. Allegations and counter accusations of distribution of things like 'vessels' and 'tokens' and 'cash' were also made against one another in select areas. A lot of independents are also fighting polls and the civic polls saw parties including the DMK and AIADMK suspending/dismissing a bunch of partymen for reasons like putting up a fight against official nominees or for support to rivals.

Apart from physical and online address of leaders cutting across party lines, the campaign saw a repeat of 'attention grabbing' scenes witnessed in the run up to the April 2021 Assembly election. To urge people to vote for them, civic poll candidates followed the pattern seen last year. They prepared dosa in eateries, ironed clothes in laundry shops, helped hawkers sell vegetables, gave a helping hand to butchers to chop meat and so on and on. Some candidates arranged traditional folk dance like 'Karagattam' and showered flowers and rose petals on people to seek votes. Nominees sought votes with the accompaniment of traditional music and drums to grab attention.

Candidates seeking the votes of the elderly by touching their feet and honouring them with shawls ('Thundu' in Tamil), which are permanent fixtures during elections, continued this time too.

The main opposition AIADMK and its allies in the 2021 Assembly election, like the PMK and BJP are a among host of others who are fighting polls separately. Parties like the PMK and BJP have pockets of influence in several regions.

TTV Dhinakaran-led Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, Naam Tamizhar Katchi, Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam and Kamal Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam are also in the fray. Polls were announced last month by the TN State Election Commission for a total of 12,838 ward member posts in 649 urban civic bodies. The 649 urban local bodies are 21 municipal corporations, 138 municipalities and 490 town panchayats. Subsequently, polls for all the 12 wards in Kadambur town panchayat in Thoothukudi district were cancelled for violations. For a town panchayat ward (Kanadukathan) in Sivaganga district, no nominations were filed. In total 218 candidates were elected unopposed. Counting of votes would commence on February 22 in 268 centres.



(Except for the headline and the pictorial description, this story has not been edited by THE DEN staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)