Local body polls: many voters found absent in Idukki plantation areas

A KSTRC bus uphill of Devikulam near Munnar.   | Photo Credit: K.K. Mustafah

The plantation areas of Peerumade, Udumbanchola and Devikulam taluks are witnessing a rare phenomenon during this election season. The poll managers are in search of the people on the voters’ list.

An election manager in Peerumade taluk says they could not trace around 65 persons who have votes in a ward of a grama panchayat. An enquiry has found that they had shifted from there sometime back but are still on the list. “It is difficult to trace them as we do not have their phone numbers or present address.”

In a ward of nearly a thousand votes, their presence is crucial. Those living in estate lanes usually move to their native places after retirement. Both cardamom and tea plantation areas are witnessing a drop in the number of voters, according to the election managers.

Udumbanchola taluk has more number of drops in cardamom plantations and Devikulam and Peerumade taluks have more people absent in tea plantations. This could affect all political parties that have put candidates in the local body elections.

Many tea estates in Peerumade have been remaining closed after a crisis hit the tea sector nearly two decades ago. A large number of families from these tea plantations had migrated to Tamil Nadu and other areas in search of better life. There are many grama panchayats in the three taluks where there was a considerable number of voters among estate workers. The most evident cases of the absence of voters is in Peerumade, Vandiperiyar, and Elappara grama panchayats in Peerumade taluk. In some wards there, the absence is up to 20% of voters. “We have traced a few of them who agreed to cast their votes,” said a candidate in a ward in Elappara grama panchayat.

Leader of a major political party in Kattappana said that in the post lockdown period, many who had gone to their native places had not returned. The party workers there were given direction to bring them back and participate in the electoral process, he added.

In last Lok Sabha and Assembly elections candidates had sought the support of major Tamil Nadu political parties for the support, said a trade union leader in Devikulam taluk. However, he said the local body elections were more personally contested.

The absence of voters will have a bearing on the local body elections especially in grama panchayats in the plantation belts as local people are in the fray local people campaigned for them. As the campaigns get momentum in the coming days, those who are absent for long and are in the voters list will be revealed.

When contacted, District Collector H. Dinesan told The Hindu on Tuesday that political parties were given an opportunity till November 10 to revise the voters’ list. If anyone was found absent, they could have been called for a personal hearing by the secretary in a grama panchayat. If found absent he or she should have been eliminated from the list with another opportunity given to him or her for appeal before the District Collector. He said that every chance of double voting would be countered.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 2:27:02 AM |

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