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TN: Muscle, Money Power Dominate Indirect Elections in Urban Local Bodies

Neelambaran A |
It has become a common practice by aspirants for leadership posts to urban civic bodies to take councillors to safe places to protect their votes.
Chennai, Feb 22 (ANI): Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) supporters raise slogan as they celebrate the party's victory in the Tamil Nadu Urban Local Body Elections, at the party headquarters, in Chennai

Chennai, Feb 22 (ANI): Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) supporters raise slogan as they celebrate the party's victory in the Tamil Nadu Urban Local Body Elections, at the party headquarters, in Chennai

Chennai: Muscle and money power plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of elections across the country. Tamil Nadu is no different. Elections have been cancelled in the state on allegations of massive cash for votes in the recent past. 

The indirect elections being held on Friday are a picture of such “high-handedness” by political parties. From taking elected councillors to ‘safe’ places prior to the elections and horse-trading to capture power, irrespective of commitments to alliance partners, is done rampantly. 

The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), despite winning the lion’s share of the wards, along with its allies in the recent urban local body elections, had to take their councillors to unknown locations.  With rumblings within DMK on allocation of the leadership roles in civic bodies to alliance partners, it has to be seen if the party is able to ensure the victory of its partners in indirect elections.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in desperation, is leaving no stone unturned to win a few local bodies. The district president of Kanyakumari unit of BJP was caught on video attacking a Congress councillor’s brother while attempting to make her support BJP. 

 'COUNCILLORS IN SAFE PLACES' 

Mayors and deputy mayors of corporations, chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of municipalities and town panchayats are to be elected indirectly by the councillors.

Hence, soon after the results were declared on February 22, the winning candidates were taken to safe and undisclosed locations, particularly by DMK. The councillors-elect of Tirunelveli corporation were taken to Kanyakumari for an overnight stay and then to a resort in Thiruvananthapuram. The move was to prevent poaching by the Opposition. They were brought back to the town on March 2 for the swearing in and were taken to Kollam

The DMK and Congress councillors in Nagercoil corporation were also taken to safety in a vehicle after they were sworn in. 

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has followed a similar path in previous elections but since the party has little scope in winning the indirect elections, such actions are far and few. 

The absence of a law to disqualify the defecting councillors is a major loophole utilised by influential local leaders with money and muscle power to win indirect elections. 

BJP CHIEF CAUGHT “ATTACKING” KIN OF CONG COUNCILLOR  

The BJP, desperate to establish itself in Kanyakumari district as a force, is trying hard to win a few posts in the local bodies. With 11 councillors in the 52-member Nagercoil corporation, it is trying all possible steps to win the post of mayor. 

The BJP is in talks with AIADMK and Congress which have seven councillors each. A contest between DMK and BJP may spring surprises, The Hindu reported

In South Thamaraikulam town panchayat, where BJP and DMK are equally poised, the BJP leaders allegedly entered into a tussle with a relative of Congress councillors. The district president P Dharmaraj was caught on camera manhandling the brother of the lone Congress councillor, whose support is crucial. The councillor was reportedly prepared to support BJP and was prevented by her brother, which led BJP leaders to attack him. 

The incident took place in the presence of former Union minister P Radhakrishnan and local BJP leaders. 

The BJP is reportedly in talks with both Congress and DMK in several local bodies in Kanyakumari. 

A local leader of CPI(M) said: "The chairman’s post of Kollemcode municipality is allocated to our party. But the local leadership of DMK is working to defeat the CPI(M) with support from both Congress and BJP". 

The leader also pointed at the indirect election to chairperson of Kuzhithurai municipality in the same district in 2006, where the CPI(M) candidate was defeated by a DMK candidate, with support from BJP and Congress members. 

The support of DMK members is crucial for the allies to win the indirect elections. Though the DMK leadership has warned of severe action against those violating party directions, only time will tell what the elected members actually do. 

DMK COUNCILLORS PREVENTED BY OWN PARTY LEADERS

A section of DMK councillors have been prevented from voting in the indirect election of Cuddalore municipal corporation. Leaders of one group, upset over the selection of Mayor candidate, are reportedly preventing a section of councillors from leaving a resort in Puducherry. 

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