Ayyappa devotees associated with political parties are upset with the TN State Election Commission for dilly-dallying on the local body poll schedule as they are unable to plan their pilgrimage.
“We are not able to plan the Sabarimala trip this year due to upcoming civic polls. It is reported that polls are scheduled by December end and January first week, the ideal time for Sabarimala pilgrims to visit the temple,” fumed Sanjay, the Ooranipuram DMK functionary.
“I have been to Sabarimala for the past 16 consecutive years, but this year the pilgrimage plan looks bleak. In rural areas, the villagers hire a bus and plan the pilgrimage. The councillors in rural pockets are decided by 50 to 100 votes and this delay in local body polls is a setback for all Ayyappa devotees,” Sanjay Gandhi added.
“If I am contesting, I may not plan the pilgrimage this year and some of my relatives will also give up their Sabarimala plans. The usual practice is that the civic polls are completed by November. Elections in December will certainly affect the Sabarimala pilgrimage and the New year mood,” said CL Sridhar, an AIADMK functionary from Egmore, who has paid deposit seeking councillor ticket in Chennai.
Meanwhile, State Election Commissioner R Palaniswamy is reported to be holding the last phase of consultations with the district collectors. On Sunday the top state election official is to be reported to have hinted the district election officers to be ready as the poll schedules are expected any time. It may be noted that the State Election Commission on November 18 informed the Supreme Court that notification for local body elections will be issued during the first week of December.
The elections are likely to be in two phases with rural local bodies to be covered under the first phase followed by polls for urban local bodies in the second phase.