While the ruling AIADMK seeks to hide behind the ongoing legal battles to avoid facing the electorate, principal opposition party DMK seems to remain content with occasionally offering lip service on conducting the civic polls.
Caught in the midst are taxpayers who have been left at the mercy of red-tape-loving special officers and their deputies, while councilors or mayors or chairmen, who receive the complaints, let alone solving the civic woes, continue to play truant.
Fear of defeat, says CPM
CPM leader A Soundararajan says, “Fear of defeat is preventing the ruling party from conducting the polls. If the ruling party is confident that it would win the polls, it would be held. It applies to both parties, in not just civic elections, but also elections to cooperative societies,” apparently blaming both the AIADMK and DMK of holding the civic poll process to ransom to allegedly advance their political interests.
“The ruling AIADMK got a transport society election in Chennai deferred the night before the polling day. They got the jurisdiction police to give in writing that they would be unable to offer protection, and that too when the ballot boxes and polling officers were ready. Everyone except the ruling party-backed people were not ready because the predictions suggested a massive defeat for them,” he said.
“Even the members of the ruling party want to be elected councilors, but the leadership satisfies them by helping them win contracts. Cutting across party lines, there is a nexus of special officers and councilors. Corruption is flourishing in civic bodies. People suffer, their grievances are not redressed.
No new schemes are implemented in civic bodies,” Soundararajan added.
DMK MLA and former Chennai Mayor M Subramaniam admitted to his party moving the court to set right the anomalies in reservation of seats and the voters’ roll.
He said, “Yes, we moved the court and delayed the election in 2016 because the government had colluded with the State Election Commission and announced the candidates’ list even before others knew about the reserving of wards. Electoral rolls were purged subsequently. Now, the government is delaying election to avoid defeat.”
“I spoke in the Assembly on the motion to extend the tenure of special officers of local bodies thrice. First, the government suggested direct election of mayors, then indirect election and finally it came out with delimitation of wards, which was done only in 2011. The ruling party has been coming up with excuses to avoid election, fearing defeat. From streetlights to mosquitoes and new schemes, people are struggling to get the civic bodies work,” Subramaniam said.
Local Administration Minister SP Velumani, who won the Union government’s awards under various heads, once again attributed the delay in holding civic elections to the petitioned moved by the DMK.
Ironically, even the Madras High Court had set at least a couple of deadlines, but to no avail, courtesy the reasoning of the government and State Election Commission to defer the same.
AIADMK rebuts charge
Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar denied the Opposition’s charge and said, “It was the DMK which moved the court and stopped the election. The case relating to delimitation is pending before the Supreme Court. We respect the court. It will amount to contempt of court if we conduct the election now, without the SC passing the order. As much as Rs 160 crore allocated for civic election is readily available. We are ready to conduct the election as soon as the court passes the order.”