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Second phase of local body polls witnesses brisk voting

The second and final phase of rural local body election in 158 panchayat unions of Tamil Nadu on Monday witnessed brisk polling without any major untoward incidents.

Second phase of local body polls witnesses brisk voting
An elderly woman being carried by two men to a polling booth at a government school in Thanakankulam


Though polling was by and large peaceful, Opposition candidates complained of cash inducement to voters by the ruling AIADMK and screamed model code violations. 

About 1.28 crore voters were scheduled to exercise their democratic right to elect 38,916 panchayat members, 2,544 members of panchayat unions and 255 ward members of district panchayats. 

“The polling was brisk to moderate and the final polling count will easily cross 70 percent,” a senior government official said. The first phase of the election for the rural local bodies conducted on December 27 recorded 76.19 per cent of polling.

More than 50,000 people including police personnel were deployed on duty to ensure a free and fair poll, but no major seizure of cash for votes were recorded.  Apart from live streaming of the poll process, Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) also appointed micro observers and observers. TNSSEC through district election officers also video graphed the polling process in 25,008 booths. The counting of votes will be held on January 2 and the indirect elections to the chairman and vice chairman posts will be held on January 11.

Along with the second phase, repoll was conducted in booths of the 15th ward in Viralimalai panchayat union among others. Two booths in Tiruvallur and a booth in Krishnagiri also recorded repolling.        

Tension at Ottapidaram after murder over poll rivalry

Tension prevailed at Ottapidaram in Thoothukudi district on Monday evening following hacking to death of a man by an armed gang. Besides, two others were also hurt in the incident.

The deceased victim has been identified as M. Mariappan (68) of Ottapidaram. Masanam, who was formerly president of the Ottapidaram panchayat, and Yesu alias Somasundaram suffered injuries during the incident.

Ottapidaram police inspected the scene of crime and held inquiries. A sniffer dog was also pressed into service as part of the investigation.

Superintendent of Police Arun Balagopalan, when contacted, said preliminary investigations revealed that previous enmity was the cause behind the killing.

However, the Ottapidaram police are yet to file a case in connection with the murder. Hunt is on to nab the accused absconding, sources said.

Meanwhile, a candidate entered one booth in Pappapatti and another booth in Keeripatti near Usilampatti in Madurai district and sought votes. With the aid of police force, the candidate was taken away. It was alleged that a booth-level officer was in support of the candidate and he ignored the entry of the candidate to the booth.

Several voters residing at Kavunji village of Mannavanur panchayat, Kodaikanal union boycotted the polling condemning the separation of the ninth ward from Kavunji and its inclusion with Poondi village.

In Thoothukudi district, Collector and District Election Officer Sandeep Nanduri said owing to dereliction of duty a presiding officer and a police man, who was deputed, in a polling booth at Vellankulam village, Nedungulam panchayat near Sathankulam, were placed under suspension. Besides, the Collector said he also recommended Goondas Act against one deputed in the booth. Moreover, disciplinary action would be taken against the rest deputed in the booth, he said.

A candidate for a ward member for Neduvasal west panchayat in Tiruchy died of cardiac arrest on Monday, the day of the local body polls.

M Mallika (42), who was contesting for Ward 5 in Neduvasal West Panchayat, went to sleep late on Sunday. On Monday, around 5.30 am, the family members tried to wake her up but they could not. Thinking that she was unconscious, they rushed her to a hospital, but she was declared brought dead by the duty doctors. They also suspected that she could have died of cardiac arrest. Police have registered a case and are investigating.

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