Coimbatore

Civic poll: parties stick to local issues during campaign

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There is no mike or big fanfare. The campaign is mostly door-to-door by mostly by district-level office-bearers of political parties and the talk is of local issues with an occasional mention of State or national issues, is how political party leaders here describe their campaign in the rural local body elections.

The first phase of polling is on December 27 and the second is on December 30.

The leaders The Hindu spoke to say the rural voters, having been better beneficiaries of various government schemes, are more politically aware and clearer about what they want and who they prefer.

“When I tell them that they will have to cast four votes and only two of those are against the symbols of recognised political parties, the voters tell me that they are aware of it and are not confused, belying my assumptions,” says an AIADMK leader on condition of anonymity.

The rural electorates vote to elect a panchayat ward member, panchayat president, panchayat union councillor and district councillor. Only the votes for the last two posts are on party symbols. For candidates contesting for the first two posts, the State Election Commission allots symbols from the common pool.

“The voters not only recognise the candidates contesting for various posts but also seem to know them personally, probably because the voters in a panchayat ward do not exceed 900 or so and in panchayat not more than a few thousands,” the AIADMK leader adds.

Therefore, the AIADMK is focussing door-to-door campaign, talking personally to the voters to establish a rapport. And, in talking to them, it highlights various schemes that the AIADMK government had introduced and underscores the need for having ruling party members at various levels so that the voters can easily avail of all schemes.

The DMK too is focussing on door-to-door canvassing and is doing so either early mornings or late evenings – that is, before the voters leave for work or after they return home.

It uses the list of people who have aired grievances at the village-level meets the party has organised or list of people who have benefited from the party’s help to connect to other voters, says Thendral S. Selvaraj, Coimbatore rural south district in-charge of the party.

“The campaign so far is for the rural voters’ franchise by local leaders and of local candidates,” he says.

The Congress too talks about local issues but also highlights the “anti-people” policies of the Central Government like the Citizenship Amendment Act and demonetisation, says V.M.C. Manoharan, president of the Coimbatore rural north unit of the party.

The BJP is banking on the Central government’s schemes for rural areas to garner votes, says district president C.R. Nandhakumar. It talks about the free LPG connection scheme, highlights the subsidy given for construction of individual household toilets under the Swachh Bharat programme among other things to drive home the point that the party is pro-poor and for development of rural areas.

The leaders say that in a few panchayat wards the political coalition does not seem to work as members of alliance parties contest against one another and they don't take a stand there but focus on the campaign for union councillors and district councillors.

And, they also overlook the fact that sometimes more than one member from their parties are contesting in a ward, they add.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 11:30:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/civic-poll-parties-stick-to-local-issues-during-campaign/article30398252.ece

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