Following a successful campaign for corruption-free election during the Assembly elections, its organisers – the Federation of Farmers Associations and NGOs in Namakkal district – have started another campaign for the local body elections. Its coordinator R. Chandramugilan told The Hindu that this time it is with a difference.
He said that the nearly 60 associations attached to their federation tasted success during their campaign “our vote is not for sale” during the 2011 Assembly elections. “We lodged more than 400 complaints of model code of conduct violation to the Election Commission and the District Election Officer and this motivated us to go for a similar campaign for the local body elections. This time, we have printed a set of 15 assurances which we have distributed to villagers across the district and voters of those villages have been asked to cast their vote only for candidates who sign those assurances,” he said.
The purpose of the campaign was to make the people aware of what they expect from the candidates and to make the candidates realise that the people were aware of what they expect from their elected representatives, he added.
Over the years, candidates had cheated people with their oral assurances while people had no hold on those representatives when they failed to fulfil their promises, he said.
Even now the candidates were not legally bound to fulfil their assurances but it will prick their conscience when they realise that they had put their assurances and won the trust of the people by signing the pamphlet, Chandramugilan said. He expressed confidence that their campaign will pave way for better local body administration.
Some assurances that the candidates give the voters by signing the pamphlet were that they will not misuse or show false panchayat accounts, refrain from bribery, protect the interest of farmers and preserve the environment from pollution.
Another important assurance, exclusively from women candidates, was that they will work independently and not yield to pressure or interference from their relatives. The assurance paper ends with the words “I will step down from my position if I fail to fulfil any one of the promises”.
“Over the last one week we have distributed thousands of pamphlets to villagers across the district, with more pamphlets distributed in Paramathi, Kabilarmalai, Elachipalayam and Pallipalayam Unions – the places that we felt that were more prone to violation of MCC during the Assembly elections,” he noted.
“Some independent candidates in the panchayats and panchayat unions have signed the list of assurances whereas some panchayat president candidates have themselves printed our assurances and distributed to the voters,” he added.