Rural local body polls: Second phase of polling under way in south TN

Polling was peaceful; a holiday was declared on Saturday to enable working voters to cast their franchise

The second phase of the rural local body polls in southern Tamil Nadu in the newly-carved districts of Tirunelveli and Tenkasi as well as casual elections in Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Dindigul and Theni began peacefully on Saturday.

Polling began at 7 a.m., and officials said as of 11 a.m., the poll percentage was: Madurai – 37.19 %, Tirunelveli – 22.89, Tenkasi – 26.67, Ramanathapuram – 28.95, Sivaganga – 25.87, Dindigul – 29.17 and Theni – 36.97 %.

With the government declaring a public holiday to facilitate the electorate to cast their votes, there were a large number of voters in Moondrataippu in Tirunelveli district from 8 a.m., onwards officials said.

Madurai District Collector Aneesh Shekhar said a large posse of police personnel had been deployed in Thirumangalam and other locations.

Theni District Collector K. V. Muralidharan visited Nariyuthu, Mayiladumparai and other polling stations. Though polling agents and staff on duty were wearing their face masks, at many stations, the voters were not wearing masks. The Collector appealed to the public to wear masks and adhere to the COVID-19 protocol, officials said.

Sivaganga District Collector P. Madhusudhan Reddy said that the polling was brisk at many stations from 7 a.m. onwards. Voters who are COVID-19 positive, shall be given an hour’s time to cast their votes from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. There were seven critical stations identified in Kalayarkoil and Kannangudi panchayat unions, wherein web cameras and micro-observers are monitoring.

In Ramanathapuram district, 65 polling stations were identified as sensitive out of 153 stations, said District Revenue Officer A. M. Kamatchi Ganesan, who is holding additional charge as Collector.

The casual election is being held for eight posts including one district panchayat ward member, four village panchayat presidents and three village panchayat ward members. All the sensitive stations are provided with web cameras and micro-observers apart from a large posse of police personnel.

In Dindigul district, casual elections are being held for 13 posts including 2 panchayat union councillors, nine panchayat ward member posts and 2 panchayat presidents respectively. To ensure that the MGNREGS workers were able to cast their votes, the government had declared a holiday with wages.

(With bureau inputs)

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