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High-decibel campaign for ULB election ends

Drumbeats and slogans rent the air when candidates undertook the last-minute round in pockets of Chennai, while the political mood was more colourful in southern and western parts of the State.

High-decibel campaign for ULB election ends
Negoita Stefan Marius, a Romanian national was issued notice for taking part in a political campaign


After the frenetic campaign over the last few days, during which leaders traded barbs and candidates raced against each other, the high-voltage fight to win the urban local body election in Tamil Nadu came to an end on Thursday evening. The civic bodies would go to polls on Saturday, results of which would be declared on February 22.

Drumbeats and slogans rent the air when candidates undertook the last-minute round in pockets of Chennai, while the political mood was more colourful in southern and western parts of the State. 

Those belonging to smaller parties and independents, too, left no stone unturned to reach out to the voters on the final day of the campaign, promising corruption-free politics if voted to power.

Tamil Nadu State Election Commission sources said the district election offices would start moving electronic voting machines and polling materials to polling stations from Friday morning. All Tasmac liquor outlets will remain closed for the next three days.

DMK president and Chief Minister MK Stalin, AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam and Opposition Leader Edappadi K Palaniswami appealed sought votes for their parties and allies, campaigning for continuation of ‘good administration’ and punishment for ‘reneging on promises’, respectively.

Battle for Chennai: No sound and fury in Kolathur this time
Nine months ago, as the State went for the Assembly election, Kolathur was the star constituency with none other than DMK’s Chief Minister candidate MK Stalin successfully contesting from the constituency. But now, come urban local body election, the CM’s constituency is bereft of any electrifying campaign, either by the DMK or the opposition camp. One important reason for the sober campaign was the fact that the ruling camp sees bright prospects in all the six wards of the CM’s constituency.
“In the last 10 years, Kolathur witnessed high profile poll campaigns since Stalin was contesting the election. This is the first time in recent years that an election campaign was this sober here. Though the door-to-door campaign was carried out, there was no high-profile or intense campaigning by any of the parties,” said Rajeswari, a retired accountant in Kolathur constituency.
Among the six wards in the Kolathur constituency, DMK is contesting in five wards while one is given to an alliance partner. Right from the first day of the campaign, there was intensity missing in electioneering and it reflected even on the last day of the campaign.
Though DMK, AIADMK and BJP were involved in campaigning in vehicles, other parties seemed to have lost interest in campaigning as autos used to announce the candidates went empty for most parties. Only the recorded voices were heard from the rather empty streets of Kolathur. Some youngsters were seen carrying bit notices of party candidates and they threw them at the entrance of the houses or placed them in windshields of the cars.
However, on the last day, DMK was involved in campaigning over the phone as people received at least two calls in which the recorded voice of Stalin was played. DMK functionaries say they are pretty much confident about their win but did not rest.
“We covered the entire constituency and not even a single house was left. We started campaigning right from day one and we are confident that all the 200 wards will be won by DMK candidates,” said Selvam, a DMK functionary of ward 52.

Rivals ease poll heat by exchanging pleasantries
The final day for the campaign for the urban body elections in the Delta region was abuzz with activities as leaders of various political parties were on a ‘quick walk’ through main streets of various localities seeking votes for the party candidates. Also some rare scenes could be witnessed as leaders from rival camps of DMK and BJP meeting came face to face and exchanged wishes.
DMK principal secretary and Local Administration Minister KN Nehru has been staying in Tiruchy, his home city, for the past few days and making strategies for the party candidates. He has been personally inspecting the places where party candidates needed to concentrate and advising them about the campaign styles.
On Thursday, he went around all the 65 wards under Tiruchy City Corporation and sought votes for the candidates belonging to DMK and its alliance partners.
Meanwhile, BJP leader H Raja was scheduled to campaign for his party candidates in Srirangam in the morning. While campaigning near the Raja Gopuram of Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple, Raja in his style made a fiery speech seeking votes for BJP candidates.
Raja was strongly criticising DMK government and claimed that the ruling party has been hijacked by the people, who forcibly convert Hindus to their religions. He warned that the DMK government’s days are numbered and it would soon be thrown out. “The DMK called the Centre as the Union government and let us call the DMK government as a mental government,” he said.
While Raja was going on vehemently attacking the DMK government, Minister Nehru came to the spot seeking votes. Anxiety prevailed for a while, especially among the police, in the area.  Raja, who had concluded his speech and was about to the leave spot,  on seeing Nehru got down from his vehicle and walked towards Nehru, who also reciprocated. Both exchanged greetings and inquired about each other’s health. 
On seeing the leaders having a free talk, cadre, people and the police heaved a sigh of relief.

Whirlwind campaigns unleash creative means to attract voters
The campaign for February 19 urban local body elections would be remembered for various reasons long after the polling was over. Apart from mutual trading of charges between parties, the election campaign also saw leaders and their script writers unleashing their creative potential to the superlative degree.
Alliteration overflowed in the campaign of Chief Minister MK Stalin who generously ridiculed the rival AIADMK in his virtual campaign. One phrase that stood out in his campaign speech was Pachaipoi Palaniswami (Blatant liar Palaniswami), which he used to described Leader of Opposition cum AIADMK joint coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami for misrepresenting facts.
So hot was the CM’s campaign that Stalin had summarily dismissed the AIADMK as “kothadimaigalin koodaram” (which literally translates to a tent of bonded labourers).
For its part, the AIADMK also demonstrated that it was second to none. It came up with its own set of verbal volleys to criticize the Chief Minister and the DMK regime. Palaniswami used the bommai (doll) analogy to lampoon at Stalin.
The BJP led by its state president K Annamalai responded to DMK’s TV ad blitz by releasing its own set of commercials satirizing the flaws in the government’s gift pack scheme late in the campaign.
In general, there was no dearth in excitement in the campaign, which saw parties largely raking up national and state issues for a local body election. While NEET, state autonomy, federalism, and secularism besides the success of schemes launched in the eight-month DMK regime echoed in the campaign trail of the DMK led alliance leaders, the AIADMK and BJP made good use of the DMK regime’s delay in fulfilling poll promises like gold jewel loan waiver and Rs 1,000 monthly cash for homemakers to fire broadside at the DMK.
Even on the last day, Stalin raked up the Republic Day tableaux controversy in his speech. DMK women’s wing secretary and Thoothukudi MP Kanimozhi humbled some of her male counterparts by covering Kanniyakumari, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Chennai on the final day.

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