Votes polled in the February 19 elections to urban local bodies in Tamil Nadu will be taken up for counting at 268 centres across the state on Tuesday. The elections to 21 municipal corporations, 138 municipalities, and 489 town panchayats are billed as the first popularity test for the nine-month-old DMK government.
Around 61 per cent of the nearly 2.80 crore electorate exercised their franchise on Saturday with Dharmapuri recording the highest (80.49 per cent) and Chennai the lowest (43.59 per cent). The votes will be counted at 268 centres from 8 am on Tuesday and results are expected to be out by the evening as Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have been used in the elections.
The Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday said it has made elaborate arrangements for the counting of votes. While the results will be announced at respective counting centres, the SEC website will stream live updates on the results.
Over 57,000 candidates are in the fray for 12,838 seats or wards – the newly-elected members will choose their mayor, deputy mayor (municipal corporations), chairmen, vice-chairmen (municipalities), and presidents, vice presidents (town panchayats) through indirect elections on March 4.
Chief Minister M K Stalin expressed confidence that the DMK alliance will register a landslide win in the elections and asked his cadre to concentrate more on “people’s work” rather than celebrating the victory.
While the SEC and Tamil Nadu Police said the elections went off “peacefully”, opposition AIADMK and BJP have alleged irregularities on the polling day and “rampant distribution” of money by the ruling party cadre. AIADMK joint coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami attributed the low turnout to the “deteriorating law and order” situation in the state, while state BJP chief K Annamalai termed the elections as a “drama.”
AIADMK and BJP are contesting alone this election after having been in an alliance since 2019. While the AIADMK hopes its “decent performance” will rejuvenate the cadre, the BJP is confident of increasing its vote share which it feels will serve as “proof” to its growth in Tamil Nadu.
The fight is three-cornered in a couple of districts where the BJP has its support base, and Paatali Makkal Katchi (PMK) wields considerable influence among Vanniyars, a dominant community in northern Tamil Nadu.
Though political observers say the ruling party is “placed quite comfortable” in majority areas of the state, instances of people pointing out “non fulfilment” of promises like Rs 1,000 for women head of households and a blanket waiver of gold loans.
While the DMK, its alliance partners, and AIADMK have fielded candidates in all the seats, BJP is fighting in just 45 per cent of seats and Tamil nationalist outfit, Naam Tamizhar Katchi (NTK), in 65 per cent of total seats.
Watch latest videos by DH here: