S. Ganesan

Contest at Koothapar Town Panchayat

TIRUCHI: The Koothapar Town Panchayat, where voters have established a long tradition of electing their representatives by consensus, will witness a contest for the first time in the bypolls on February 8.

Though councillors of three wards are set to be elected unopposed this time too, 56 candidates were in the fray for the other 15 wards.

Koothapar has not seen a contest in elections ever since it was upgraded a town panchayat in 1984 and even when it was a village panchayat. Councillors were elected unopposed all these years and the nominees were identified and approved by an influential village committee. Political parties normally toe the line of the villagers' decision.

No nomination was filed for the 18 wards in the town panchayat during the local body elections held in the State in October apparently after the villagers failed to arrive at a consensus.

The stalemate aroused political interest in the wake of the reservation of the chairman's post under the Scheduled Caste (general) category under the rotational system.

The CPI(M), which had alleged that its candidates were "prevented" from filing nominations last time, is contesting from five wards now. The DMK has fielded candidates in 15 wards. Of these, three have been elected unopposed from wards 5, 11 and 14. Congress candidates too have filed nominations for some of the wards.

The town panchayat includes three wards each in Koothapar village and Bharathipuram, two in Jainagar and one each in Burma Colony and Ganapathy Nagar. The rest of the eight wards are spread over the BHEL Township.