Local body polls in Tamil Nadu likely in December in two phases

MK Stalin, Edappadi K Palaniswami, local body polls, Tamil Nadu elections
The ruling AIADMK, which was sceptical about its poll prospects, took the Lok Sabha polls as the testing ground | PTI File

After three years of delay, the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission is expected to notify the local body polls in the first week of December. The election is likely to take place in the same month in two phases.

The state assembly had in 2016 enacted 50% reservation law for women in the local body elections, following which it took three years to identify the wards. Finally, the State Election Commission notified the wards reserved for women in June.

“The elections are scheduled to be notified in the first week of December and it would be conducted in two phases. First phase would be in the last week of December, while the second phase would be in the first week of January,” said an official privy to the developments.

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A petition regarding the local body elections is pending before the Supreme Court and therefore the State Election Commission is waiting for its directive to finalise the dates.

“The top court is yet to be hear the petition. Earlier, the commission had asked for four more weeks to notify the election date. Once the petition is heard, the dates may be notified based on the outcome,” the official said.

State Election Commissioner R Palanisamy has been monitoring all the preparatory works on a daily basis in every district.

AIADMK set for polls

The ruling AIADMK, which was skeptical about its poll prospects, took the Lok Sabha polls as the testing ground. However, it faced one of its worst defeats in the April 18 general elections though it managed to save its government with victory in nine assembly seats in the bypolls held to 22 assembly segments.

Now, after wresting two assembly constituencies, Vikravandi and Nanguneri in the October 21 bypolls, the party’s ground level workers seem to have attained a morale booster.

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A state-level functionary of the AIADMK, who did not wish to be named, said that the victory in the two bypolls have increased the confidence of the chief minister and deputy coordinator of the party, Edappadi K Palaniswami.

“He now wants to prove himself in the local body polls too before going to the next assembly election. However, there were also talks that if we do not perform well in the local body polls, it may affect our prospects in the next assembly elections. These issues will be discussed in the party’s district-level functionaries, and a meeting of MPs and MLAs will be held in the party headquarters on November 6,” the functionary said.

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This was also evident from the speeches of the state ministers as well. Local Administration minister SP Velumani, Milk and Dairy Development minister T Rajenthra Balaji and Tamil Official Language minister K Pandiarajan had all exhumed confidence that was AIADMK was ready to face the elections.

The AIADMK functionary also said that there has been pressure from ally BJP seeking more seats in the local body polls. “They think local body polls are the only way to gain grounds in Tamil Nadu. Also, we have assured a lot of our ground level workers that they will be given seats in the local body polls. These things should also be sorted. But this would not be discussed in the November 6 meeting,” the functionary added.

DMK general body meeting on November 10

The opposition DMK is also set to discuss the local body polls in its general body meeting on November 10. Though it bagged a landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections, the DMK lost two of its assembly constituencies to the AIADMK in the October 21 bypolls. According to sources, the DMK high command would introspect their bypoll defeats.

“The party high command would form a committee to find the reason behind the bypoll defeats. If anyone in the party is found to have not worked for it, disciplinary action would be initiated once the report is submitted to the party high command,” said a senior DMK functionary.

After the bypoll talks, the general body would discuss the strategies to strengthen the ground level workforce for the local body polls. “After the general body meeting, unofficial seat sharing talks would be held and after the dates are notified, an official meeting would be convened,” the senior functionary added.

Stalin may take additional charge as general secy

Meanwhile, DMK chief MK Stalin is likely to take charge as the party’s general secretary as well. “According to the party by-laws, if the general secretary of the party is inactive for over a period of time, the leader can take over the charge,” the functionary said.

Therefore, since party general secretary K Anbazhagan has been hospitalised and inactive for months, Stalin may take charge of the post.

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Earlier, the local body polls were scheduled to be held on October 17 and 19, 2016. After the DMK approached the Madras High Court, the notifications were quashed and fresh notifications were about to be notified.

However, after a long legal battle, the Election Commission agreed to notify it before October 31. But, since a PIL is pending before the Supreme Court, the State Election Commission is waiting for its directive.