Leaders happy with EC on Tiruvarur by-poll, people in 20 constituencies fume

Chennai: Soon after the Election Commission announced that it has decided not to hold the Tiruvarur by-election, slated for 28 January, leaders cutting across party lines welcomed the decision.

But, the sad reality is, perhaps for the first time in the history of the State, people of 20 constituencies in Tamilnadu are left without not even one elected representative, since there are already no local body representatives in the State for more than two years, due to delay in the conduct of civic polls. And, with no signs of by-elections in these constituencies at least till April, voters here will continue to remain so, at least for the next few months.

Suresh N of Tiruvarur, says, “Though we initially had fears that Gaja cyclone relief works might get affected because of the by-poll, we were relieved after the Election Commission stated that there was no objection to carry out rehabilitation works. In fact, we very much wanted a legislator to represent our cause in the Assembly. Cancelling of by-election is a disappointment to us. The only solace, however, is, we will be able to get the Rs 1,000 Pongal cash gift of the State government, since Tiruvarur, left out earlier due to the by-election, has been included now.”

Sridhar from Poonamallee, one of the 18 constituencies whose MLAs were disqualified, says, ‘Earlier, there were Councillors and MLA. Now, we have no one to air our woes. Of course, there are officers. But they are overloaded with other work and only have little time to focus on civic problems.”

However, a top official of the Local Administration Department dismisses these charges. “There is no lag in civic administration due to the lack of representatives. Special officers take good care of local bodies. Though the government very much wants to conduct the elections, legal hurdles are preventing it from doing so. And, as far as Assembly by-polls are concerned, everything is in the hands of the Election Commission and everyone knows this.”

M Bhaskar Sai