Polling in the second and final phase of the rural local body elections in Tamil Nadu began at 7 am on Monday. As of 9 am, a 10.41% turnout has been recorded, according to the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC). The first phase of the polls concluded on Friday with a 76.19% turnout.
A total of 158 Panchayat Unions are going to the polls on Monday and security has been beefed up in those polling localities. Repolling will also be taking place in 30 booths that went to polls on Friday over erroneous printing of candidate symbols.
About 1.28 crore voters are expected to exercise their democratic right in this phase to elect 38,916 panchayat members, 2,544 members of panchayat unions and 255 ward members of district panchayats. There are 25,008 polling booths.
Voting will end at 5 pm.
On Monday, the Madras High Court held that there was no legal bar on the results of the rural and urban local body polls being released separately. A Bench of Justices Vaidyanathan and PT Asha was informed by the TNSEC that the Supreme Court had ordered the conduct of urban local body polls within three months. The bench heard and dismissed a public interest litigation filed by the General Secretary of the NGO Satta Panchayat Iyakkam, Senthil Arumugam, in the Madras High Court seeking a direction to TNSEC not to declare the results of the ongoing rural local body elections till the urban civic polls were also conducted.
The petitioner submitted that local body elections were held simultaneously in rural and urban areas in 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011, but this time it was being conducted for rural local bodies alone from December 27 to December 30 in 27 districts. The petitioner said that conducting such separate elections in two parts was against level-playing field, which is mandatory in a democratic election, and the announcement of results in one phase, scheduled now for January 2 would affect the polls in other parts, yet to be notified.
(With IANS inputs)