First phase of TN Local body polls: Check the voter turnout recorded in the districts!

The first phase of the rural local body polls in nine districts in Tamil Nadu are underway where the voters are electing their representatives for the grassroot government institutions. As the first polls since the recently-held assembly elections, the local body polls have become a prospect to the ruling party to retain its support and to make a comeback for the other parties, that faced a debacle in the assembly polls.

While the first phase of the polls is taking place on Wednesday - October 6, the second phase has been scheduled for October 9. The nine newly demarcated districts of Kancheepuram, Chengalpattu, Kallakurichi, Villupuram, Ranipet, Vellore, Thirupathur, Tirunelveli, and Tenkasi have been hosting the polls for their rural local bodies and the polling had begun at 7 am on Wednesday and while some districts had a bright opening, others had recorded a less turnout.

Tamil Nadu Election Commissioner V Palani Kumar had confirmed that a voter turnout of 19.61% was recorded until 11 am, in the first four hours of the polls. The turnout was 33.78 per cent till 1 pm. The voting will continue till 6 pm and the last one hour of voting will be specifically reserved for the Covid-19 patients including those who had shown symptoms. There were untoward incidents recording in some areas, which had resulted in the halting of the polling.

According to reports, the state election commission has held several rounds of virtual meetings with the district administrations and the police to make sure that the polls are held with no disruptions. The reports say that the polling was stopped in several constituencies including Ammundi in Vellore due for several reasons. Polling in these areas in Vellore was paused after violence had erupted between different parties.

There was a similar scale of violence in Tirunelveli, which invited a huge police presence and in Kallakurichi and Villupuram, the district administration had seized unaccounted money that was brought for distribution among the voters. It has been reported that around Rs 25 lakh was seized from several people in Villupuram and Kallakurichi districts. The Election Commission had directed the police officials to stay vigil towards ensuring full security during the polls.

In total, the elections are being held in nine districts for 27,003 postings, including 2,901 village panchayat presidents' posts and 22,581 village panchayat ward councillors. A total of 76,59,720 voters are eligible to cast their vote in the two-phased polls. The first phase of the polls will be electing representatives to 14,662 posts in rural local bodies and as per the data from the Election Commission, 43.4% polling had recorded in Villupuram district till 1 pm while Tirunelveli had recorded 39.1 per cent during the same time.

While Tenkasi had recorded 39.85 per cent polling till 1 pm, the voter turnout stood at 55.29 per cent till 3 pm. Despite some incidents, the first phase of the polls had held peacefully and the election commission had earlier identified 3,409 sensitive booths in nine districts with the help of respective district collectors and superintendents of police. The polling was videographed at 1,132 booths and live-streamed from 1,123 booths, while CCTV facilities were installed in 12,318 booths.