The Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (SEC) has finally announced the dates for the rural local bodies today after a delay of three years. The elections will be held in two phases—on December 27 and 30—while the results will be announced on January2, 2020.
The commission, however, did not announce the dates for urban local body polls.
Soon after the announcement of the elections, the leaders of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) accused each other of causing the delay and excluding urban local bodies.
NEW DISTRICTS NOT CONSIDERED?
The SEC announced elections for village, union and district panchayats. Around 3,31,00,000 voters are expected to exercise their franchise to elect their local body representatives.
The commission has announced elections to be held for 31 district panchayats, but the state has 37 districts—as a result of carving out new districts. Also, during the creation of new districts, several new unions (taluks) were also constituted, which seems to be neglected by the election commission.
DMK spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member R S Bharathi, while speaking to NewsClick said, “There is no clarity on the announcement made by the EC regarding the elections. It seems to be an announcement made in haste since the roster allocations have also not been done.”
CLARITY SOUGHT ON DELIMITATION AND RESERVATION
The DMK had filed a case in the Supreme Court on November 29 seeking clarity and completion on the delimitation reservation of the new districts. The bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, after hearing the case on Monday, listed it to be heard on Thursday. The process of filing nominations is set to begin on December 6 as per the notification of the SEC. The court had earlier ordered the SEC to announce the local body elections before December 13.
C K Thamizharasan, leader of the Republican Party of India (RPI), too, had joined the legal battle for the local body elections. He had moved the Madras High Court to hold back the SEC from declaring elections without reservation for posts like deputy mayor and vice chairmen.
The DMK, in an all-party meeting, accused the process of delimitation as farce as “no procedural norms have been followed” during the exercise.
WHO DELAYED THE ELECTION?
The local body elections were due on October 2016 as the office of the previous local bodies had expired. But it was postponed following hospitalisation of the former Chief Minister J Jayalalitha on September 2016. The death of the former chief minister and the subsequent power tussle within the AIADMK ranks led to the further delay. The split in the party and the infighting between the present Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and CM Edappadi K Palaniswami continued in the state.
DMK spokesperson M Saravanan, while speaking to NewsClick, said, “The AIADMK is ruling and can do and undo things. As the opposition party, we can raise our voice. The incompetence of the AIADMK government has led to the delay in the local body elections. They are scared of facing the elections.”
AIADMK spokesperson Maruthu Azhaguraj alleged, “The DMK has lost all its confidence after the loss in by-elections to Vikiravandi and Nanguneri. The DMK is the reason for the delay, as they approach the court to stop the elections. […] They are finding reasons to evade defeat in the elections”.
Saravanan, on the other hand, claimed that if the party’s concerns would have been unfounded, the court would have simply dismissed the case; however, it didn’t.
Several cases regarding the local body polls continue to be pending before the Supreme Court and the Madras High Court even as the announcement has come. As a result, fate of elections still hangs in the balance. Meanwhile, the absence of local bodies for more than three years has taken a heavy toll, as many local issues continue to remain unresolved.