Cadres of all political parties and persons from other places including tourists told to leave

A hectic campaign for the December 4 byelections to the Yercaud Assembly constituency, marked by allegations of attempts to buy voters with cash and gifts, came to an end on Monday. The byelection is being held as the seat fell vacant because of the demise of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MLA C. Perumal on July 19.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) are locked in a straight fight in the constituency reserved for candidates from the Scheduled Tribes. Besides the candidates of these two parties, nine others – all independents – are in the fray.

The DMK campaign for its candidate V. Maran was wound up by party treasurer and former Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin. For the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Finance and PWD Minister O. Panneerselvam was among the party heavyweights who figured in the final stretch of the campaign for candidate P. Saroja, wife of the deceased MLA. Akila India Samathuva Makkal Katchi leader R. Sarath Kumar too campaigned for the AIADMK candidate.

District Election Officer and Collector K. Maharabushanam said the cadres of all political parties and persons from other places, including tourists, were asked to leave the constituency before 5 p.m. on Monday. Tourists would not be allowed till polling came to an end on December 4. Superintendent of Police R. Sakthivel said police and revenue officials would remove people from other districts who refused to comply. “Identifying them is a tough process, but it has to be done to ensure fair election”, he added.

The DEO and SP also warned of stringent action against cadres of political parties and candidates who involved in any form of campaign such as showing symbols to voters and seeking votes through messages on mobile phones.

Mr. Maharabushanam said all arrangements had been made for polling on December 4 and counting of votes on December 8. Electronic Voting Machines would be kept amid tight security at CSI Polytechnic College in Salem.

After randomisation of officials and booth-level staff on Monday evening, they would be deployed for election duty on Tuesday.

As for facilities at polling stations, he said ramps for the elderly and differently abled persons, drinking water and toilets were available in all the 290 booths. “Vehicles have been arranged to take the polling staff, EVMs and other election-related items to five booths in remote places – Kundur, Kondayanur, Chenthittu, Kovilur and Puthur – atop Yercaud Hill”, he said. Central Reserve Police Force Personnel, deployed for election security, took out a flag march on Monday at Vazhapadi located on the plains of the constituency. Split into two groups, they marched through villages that came under the constituency. On Sunday, a flag march was taken out in the hill areas of the constituency.

Totally, 2550 security personnel – 1500 from the Salem city and rural police, 400 from the Central Industrial Security Force, 400 from the Central Reserve Police Force and 250 from the Armed Reserve — have been deployed across Yercaud.

(With inputs from S.P. Saravanan)

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