Chennai: First phase of polling started this morning for rural local bodies in nine newly carved districts of Tamilnadu. Tight security was in place at voting stations and people braved rains to exercise their franchise.
The second phase of polls will be held on 9 October and the counting of votes will take place on 12 October.
Elections are held in Chengalpattu, Kallakurichi, Kancheepuram, Ranipet, Tenkasi, Tirunelveli, Tirupattur, Vellore and Villupuram districts, where the polls could not be held in December 2019 due to delimitation exercise.
State Election Commission said polling will be held from 7 am to 6 pm, with the last hour — 5 pm to 6 pm — reserved for Covid-19 patients and patients with symptoms of the viral infection. A total of 79,433 candidates are in the fray contesting for 23,998 posts in these nine districts.
More than 33,000 police personnel and 6,000 Home Guards were deployed on security duty for the two phase polling. More than 17,000 police personnel and over 3,400 home guards were deployed on security day for the first phase.
The polling process will be videographed and State Election Commissioner V Palanikumar chaired a virtual meeting to discuss the installation of cameras for monitoring the voting process.
The polls will witness a direct fight between the ruling DMK, contesting with its existing alliance partners which were part of Assembly polls, and the Opposition AIADMK, though PMK, which had contested the May Assembly polls as an ally of the AIADMK, decided to go it alone, citing paucity of time.
However, AIADMK’s other allies, the BJP and TMC continue to remain in the front. Apart from PMK, Makkal Neethi Maiam of actor-political Kamal Haasan, actor-politico VIjayakanth’s DMDK and Naam Tamizhar Katchi of actor-director Seeman are also in the fray.
The DMK, which came to power after a gap of ten years, is very keen sustain the momentum and prove that the resounding victory in the May Assembly polls was not a flash in the pan, while the AIADMK is keen to re-establish its supremacy by winning back the confidence of the voters.
The nine districts have a total of 76,59,720 electorates. Of them, 37,77,524 are men and 38,81,361 are women while 835 are transpersons.
In the nine districts, a total of 27,003 posts are to be filled — 140 district panchayat ward members, 1,381 panchayat union ward members for 74 panchayat unions and 22,581 village panchayat ward members posts in 2,901 village panchayat presidents.
Polling will be held in 14,573 booths — 7,921 polling booths in the first phase and 6,652 booths in the second phase.
Of the total strength of 27,003 posts, 2,981 candidates were declared elected unopposed and 79,433 candidates are in the fray in the elections.
In the first phase, polls are held for 78 district district panchayat ward member posts, 755 panchayat union ward member posts, 1,577 village panchayat president posts and 12,252 village panchayat ward member posts.