Chennai: The date for Parliamentary elections and Assembly by-polls (to 21 seats) in Tamilnadu scheduled 18 April may be postponed to 23 April, as it coincides with the Madurai Chithirai festival – one of the most important annual event in the temple town’s calendar.
Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo has sought details regarding the festivities from Madurai Collector S Natarajan and has directed him to submit a report by tomorrow including details on whether the information about the festival was informed beforehand to the Election Commission.
In an urgent pre-election meeting convened at the district Collectorate today, the Madurai City Commissioner of Police, S Davidson Devasirvatham has requested the help of paramilitary forces for elections in the Madurai if they were to be held at the same time as the Chithirai festival.
Submitting his observation to the Collector on the security arrangements needed for the election, Commissioner Devasirvatham said that 5000 police personnel would be providing security assistance during the Chithirai Month festivities. He added that the Madurai Police force would be spread thin if they were to give protective detail to polling booths and take care of the festival related work at the same time.
Politicos from all parties in Tamilnadu are voicing that conducting the election on 18 April will result in poor voter turnout not only in Madurai but also in neighbouring districts as the Chithirai festival is celebrated with much fanfare in the outh. Considering this, it is expected that the election commission would most likely postpone the polling date in Tamilnadu to 23 April. A case in this regard has also been filed with the High Court.