K. Manikandan

Officials got notification on Tuesday night

  • Many partymen were unaware of the position of their wards until notices were pasted in offices
  • In Tambaram taluk, polls will be held to 25 village panchayats, 11 town panchayats and six municipalities.

    TAMBARAM: The announcement made by the State Government on the schedule for local body elections has taken officials by surprise.

    They received notification late at night on Tuesday and had to race against time to ensure that their offices were ready by 11 a.m. on Wednesday in case candidates began to line up.

    The taluk office in Tambaram, the St. Thomas Mount panchayat union in Chitlapakkam and the different municipalities in the southern suburbs of Chennai were bustling with activities, with government employees and partymen who were trooping in and out.

    Many partymen were unaware of the position of their wards until notices were pasted in these offices.

    In Tambaram taluk, which comprises two Assembly constituencies of Tambaram and Alandur, polls would be held to 25 village panchayats, 11 town panchayats and six municipalities.

    Residents in panchayats have to cast four votes: ward member, panchayat president, panchayat union ward member and district panchayat ward member.

    About 2.66 lakh voters would be electing 237 ward members in the villages, 24 panchayat union and two district panchayat ward members, apart from their village presidents.

    The number of voters is likely to increase or slightly decrease during polling as the Government has made arrangements for corrections, additions and deletions in the electoral rolls.

    Among the 25 village panchayats, the post of president has been reserved for SC (women) at Sithalapakkam and Vengaivaasal, SC (general) at Uthandi and Ottiambakkam and women (general) at Pozhichalur, Palavakkam, Nanmangalam, Moovarasampet, Madurapakkam, Madipakkam and Agaramthen. Among panchayat union ward members, Tirusulam has been reserved for SC (women), while Tiruvancheri and Agaramthen have been reserved for SC (general) and seven other panchayat union wards have been reserved for women (general).

    The election fee for various posts in village panchayats, panchayat union and district panchayat varies from Rs. 100 to Rs. 1,000.

    Contestants for the post of ward member in village panchayats can spend only Rs. 3,750 for electioneering; Rs. 10,000 for contestants for the post of panchayat presidents.

    Similarly the ceiling on electioneering to contestants for the posts of ward members for panchayat union and district panchayat is Rs. 37,500 and Rs. 75,000, officials here said.

    Arrangements had been made in all local bodies to make sure there was no room for complaints from candidates, the officials added.

    Citizen's initiative

    An interesting feature this time around would be a big initiative being launched by the Catalyst Trust, to field candidates on behalf of the citizens in at least some of the urban local body wards.

    Last month, the Trust along with a few other NGOs and community-based organisations held a meeting in Chrompet to raise people's awareness of the need for drawing voters to the polling booths.

    In 2001, urban local bodies in the suburbs saw less than 50 per cent voter turn out.

    One such effort is to field local candidates so that citizens' come out and vote in larger number for a ward member from the neighbourhood.