Voting began at 7 a.m. at 2,500 polling booths in Villupuram district and at 939 booths in Kallkurichi; queues were seen despite the rain
Polling in the first phase of the rural local body elections in Villupuram and Kallakurichi districts began on a peaceful note on Wednesday with over 12.27 lakh eligible voters expected to exercise their franchise. As many as 15,325 contestants are in the fray for 4,998 posts in 11 panchayat unions — seven in Villupuram and four in Kallaurichi districts in the first phase.
Voting began at 7 a.m. at over 2,500 polling booths amid high security. It will conclude at 6 p.m. In Villupuram, polling began on a brisk note amidst a steady drizzle in the morning. Several voters started venturing out and braved the rain to queue up at the polling stations in panchayat unions in Kandamangalam, Mugaiyur, Gingee, Thiruvennainallur, Olakkur, Vanur and Vikravandi. Voters carrying umbrellas could be seen lining up at polling stations across Vikravandi.
Within the first two hours, 6.90 per cent polling was recorded in the district. The polling went up to 20.19 at 11 a.m. Senior citizens too turned up enthusiastically to perform their democratic duty. In many booths disabled citizens were assisted by volunteers to access the polling booths in wheelchairs.
Photo: Kumar S S
More than 1,400 voters in Ponnankuppam village in Gingee union boycotted the polls on Wednesday. The panchayat has two villages — Ponnankuppam and Thuthipet. The people of Ponnankuppam village which has a population of 3,000 have been demanding that the village be annexed and declared as a separate Panchayat.
According to officials, no votes were polled in Ponnankuppam panchayat till 12 p.m.
The Panchayat has 12 posts including nine ward members from the two villages. Residents of Ponnankuppam contented that the local body posts had been auctioned all these years to the highest bidder from Thuthipet, based on its population size. Despite warnings by the district administration, the post of Panchayat president has been auctioned to the highest bidder from Thuthipet, said a section of the residents.
“We are boycotting the election as our demand for annexing the village as a separate panchayat has not been paid attention to. Being part of Thuthipet, which comes under Ponnankuppam panchayat has not benefited us. As many as 24 contestants from the village who had filed nominations for three posts of ward members have withdrawn their nominations,” said M. Selvam, a resident of Ponnankuppam.
Polling was brisk at several polling booths in four panchayat unions in Kallakurichi district with people turning up in large numbers. There were long queues, especially of women, at most polling stations since morning.
The district recorded 4.86 per cent till 9 a.m. Webcasting is being done at some polling stations out of a total of 939 polling stations, with a total electorate of 4,73,464 . In addition to 84 vulnerable and critical polling booths, the entire proceedings are being covered under CCTV in 774 booths. Over 4,000 police personnel have been deployed in the two districts to ensure the peaceful conduct of the polls.
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