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Campaign Intensifies in Tamil Nadu,Opposition Allege DMK of Abduction, Forcing Withdrawals

Neelambaran A |
The fate of 57,778 candidates contesting from 12,607 wards of the urban civic bodies will be decided by the electors on February 19.

Representational use only.

After the time elapsed for withdrawing the nominations for the urban local body (ULB) polls, a total of 57,778 candidates will be in the fray for 12,607 wards across Tamil Nadu. While 218 candidates have been elected unopposed, the election to Kadambur town panchayat has been called off by the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC), citing officials' failure to follow the rules for the conduct of elections.

The voters will vote to elect the representatives to the 648 ULBs on February 19 in a multi-cornered fight between the political parties.

Allegations of abducting and forcing rival candidates to withdraw from the fray have also been raised by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK). The AIADMK has also accused the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leaders of utilising the official machinery in their favour.

The campaigns have intensified, with chief minister MK Stalin addressing the electors through virtual campaigns. The former chief ministers, Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panner Selvam (OPS), are on tour across the state addressing indoor meetings.


The election to the Kadambur town panchayat in Thoothukudi district has been cancelled after the TNSEC found a violation of guidelines by the election officials. The TNSEC has not elaborated on the issues identified but advised the District Collector, who is also the district election officer, to initiate action against the officials.

A total of 648 ULBs, including 21 corporations, 138 municipalities and 489 town panchayats, will now go for polls in a single phase on February 19 after a gap of 10 years. The rural local body polls were held in 2019 and 2021.

After several AIADMK candidates withdrew from the fray in the Periya Negamam town panchayat in Coimbatore district, the DMK has secured a majority in the local body. Eight of its candidates have been elected unopposed in the 15 member council, while a couple of AIADMK candidates have also been elected unopposed.

The elections will witness multi-cornered contests with AIADMK, BJP, Makkal Neethi Maiam (MNM) led by actor Kamal Haasan, PMK, the Tamil nationalist party Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK), Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), the breakaway faction of AIADMK, and actor turned politician Vijayakanth's Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) contesting alone. The DMK alliance with Congress, left parties, and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) is intact. However, these parties are going alone in a few areas where an agreement on seat sharing couldn't be finalised.

The cash for vote incidents have resurfaced again, with the flying squads appointed by the TNSEC having seized cash and articles worth Rs 4.9 crore in just days from January 30. With elections due in another 10 days, the cash flow is expected to increase, as is the practice in the state, which has been reported during General and Assembly elections.


The opposition parties, the AIADMK and PMK, have accused the DMK of abducting candidates and forcing them to withdraw from the contest. A woman candidate from the ninth ward of Vadipatti town panchayat in Madurai went missing while the AIADMK accused the DMK local leaders of abducting her.

She withdrew the nomination after returning, leading to the election of the DMK candidate since no other party had candidates from the ward.

In the Vellore corporation, a DMK candidate was elected unopposed after nominations of five candidates of AIADMK, PMK, BJP, and Makkal Neethi Maiam (MNM) were rejected. The DMK has been accused of intimidating the PMK candidate in ward 24, to which the PMK founder Dr Ramadoss has registered his protest. "The DMK is threatening candidates out of fear of failure," he tweeted.

In Thoothukudi corporation, the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) has accused the DMK of forcing its candidate to withdraw from the contest against the brother of social welfare minister Geetha Jeevan.

A total of 19% of the candidates withdrew from the elections, as per the information made available by the TNSEC. The allegations of forced withdrawals and abductions have not been addressed so far despite protests from the opposition parties.

After the withdrawal of nominations, there are 11,119 aspirants for 1,370 corporation wards, 17,922 candidates in 3,825 municipality wards and 28,660 candidates in 7,412 town panchayat wards. The indirect elections to the posts of Mayor, Deputy Mayors, Chairpersons, deputy Chairpersons will be held on March 4.


As the number of fresh COVID-19 infections and active cases falls rapidly across the state, the police department has granted permission for public meetings with maximum participation of 1,000 people. In Chennai, the police have identified 168 locations for public meetings and rallies.

As the election campaign intensified, the COVID protocols have been sent for a toss in meetings held by most political parties. Wearing masks and maintaining physical distance are rarely found during the meetings intended to introduce the candidates and other indoor meetings.

Warnings on the increase in cases after elections are also being raised by experts.

The AIADMK leaders, EPS and OPS, are touring the state to address indoor meetings while the chief minister is addressing virtual rallies. The AIADMK has listed out the unfulfilled promises of DMK during its campaign to corner the ruling party, while the DMK is claiming to have fulfilled 70% of its poll promises.

Apart from local issues playing a major role in the civic body polls, the major political parties are pushing hard to emerge victorious. The poll results are a matter of prestige for the DMK, while the AIADMK is keen to come back strongly.

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