A section of residents of Y. Pudupatti panchayat complained of allowing 150 in-patients of the Leprosy Rehabilitation Home located in the village to vote in the local body election. The villagers also alleged that one particular candidate, who had contested in the election, had “bought” the votes of the patients en masse.
Scores of villagers, including women, staged a protest at the Collectorate here on Monday and demanded re-polling at the panchayat. They also threatened to surrender their ration cards if their demand was not met.
The villagers, led by an All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam functionary, A. Oomathurai, said that the patients from various places of Madurai and neighbouring districts, used to stay in the home for a long period and leave for their native place after treatment.
The number of patients, which used to be 450 earlier, had reduced to 150. “These people, who have their names in the voter list of their native villages, have their votes in Y. Pudupatti also. We pointed it out to the officials on October 13,” he said.
The villagers had threatened to boycott election. The Revenue officials promised to take action, but did nothing, he said.
Stating that a separate polling booth was earmarked for the patients, Mr. Oomathurai, said that 148 out of the 159 voters, including the home officials, had exercised their franchise in the particular booth. “A total of 30 votes were rejected and 111 votes had gone in favour of a particular voter. The candidate had bribed them,” he said.
Meanwhile, K. Pandiammal, candidate for Azhagapuri village panchayat president post, and her supporters staged a protest in the Collectorate demanding re-poll or re-counting of votes for the local body. They alleged that the wards were not taken up in numerical order for counting of votes. Besides, there were mismatch between the number of votes polled and those counted in some wards.
Stating that Pandiammal had lost the election by a margin of mere 17 votes, they sought for either re-counting or re-polling.