Can election in Madurai be postponed, court asks Election Commission

Chennai: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court today asked the Election Commission whether it was possible to postpone the election in Madurai on account of the Chithirai festival and conduct it on a later date.

It has asked the EC to respond in two days.

Yesterday, Tamilnadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo sought details regarding the festivities from Madurai Collector S Natarajan and directed him to submit a report today, including details on whether the information about the festival was informed beforehand to the Election Commission.

In an urgent meeting convened at the district collectorate yesterday, Madurai City Commissioner of Police, S Davidson Devasirvatham, requested the help of paramilitary forces to conduct the elections in Madurai if they were to be held at the same time as the Chithirai festival.

Submitting his observation to the Collector on security arrangements needed for the election, Devasirvatham said that 5,000 police personnel would be providing security assistance during the Chithirai festivities. He added that the Madurai police force would be spread thin if they were to give protective detail to polling booths also at the same time.

Politicos from all parties in Tamilnadu proesting 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.

Advocate Parthasarathy had filed case in the Madurai bench of the High Court with regard to this and this came up for hearing today.

STAGE WALKOUT

Earlier today, representatives staged a walkout during an all-party meeting organised by Collector Natarajan during which he firmly said the election will be held during the Chithirai festival in Madurai.

NT Bureau