Polling for the first phase of rural local body elections in 27 districts of Tamil Nadu will be held on Friday. The local body polls are being held in a staggered manner after a delay of over three years.
Areas covered by 156 panchayat unions will go to the polls to elect 260 ward members of district panchayats, 2,546 members of panchayat unions and 37,830 members of panchayats.
The police have made elaborate arrangements for the elections. “Over 48,000 police personnel have been deployed and 14,500 non-police personnel such as ex-servicemen will supplement them to ensure free and fair polling,” a senior police officer said on Thursday. As many as 33,920 police personnel are from taluks, 9,959 from Armed Police and 4,700 from the Tamil Nadu Special Police.
They will be deployed in polling stations, as mobile parties and at pickets. Every polling booth will have uniformed police personnel on duty.
Adequate personnel will be deployed wherever required and identified by the State Election Commission, the police officer added.
Polling will take place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The second phase of rural local body polls slated for December 30 will witness elections in areas covered by 158 panchayat unions. The electors will choose 255 ward members of district panchayats, 2,544 members of panchayat unions and 38,916 members of village panchayats.
In the central zone — covering eight districts including Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Karur and Tiruvarur — 1,018 of the total 7,126 polling stations have been identified as vulnerable. Tiruvarur district tops the list with 287 vulnerable polling stations, followed by 196 in Ariyalur district. Perambalur district is at the bottom with 14 vulnerable stations. Tiruchi and Thanjavur districts have 105 and 101 vulnerable stations respectively. Pudukottai and Nagapattinam have 137 and 87 vulnerable booths. Out of 495 polling stations in Ariyalur district, 196 stations have been classified as vulnerable, based on various parameters. Similarly, 10 polling booths have been identified as critical in the central zone. Of them, five are in Ariyalur district.
A. Amalraj, Inspector General of Police, Central Zone, told The Hindu that tight security had been made in different parts of the zone. About 11,000 policemen would be deployed for poll duty.
In Coimbatore, District Election Officer K Rajamani and District Election Observer G. Govindaraj on Thursday oversaw the process of transporting polling materials to polling stations. Polling will be held in five panchayat unions in Coimbatore and seven panchayat unions each in Tiruppur and Erode districts on Friday. In Salem, polling materials were transport in trucks escorted by police. In Namakkal, Superintendent of Police Ara. Arularasu said that four-tier security had been arranged for polling. He added that vulnerable booths would have micro observers and the entire process would be videographed or monitored through CCTV cameras. Mr. Arularasu added that police would be able to respond in three to four minutes to any point.
Five panchayat unions in Dharmapuri and four in Krishnagiri will see polling. In Madurai, polling will be held in six panchayat unions. Additional Director (Panchayat) A. Chelladurai said that 7,648 polling personnel had reached their respective booths. A total of 8,682 contestants are in the fray in the district.
A senior official from the Madurai district administration said shamianas for voters and wheelchairs for elderly voters and differently abled will be provided.
(With inputs from bureaus in Tiruchi, Coimbatore and Madurai)