The much delayed local body elections will most likely be held in November, the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission has announced. Delimitation of wards in all the 234 Assembly constituencies is in full, it has said.
By Oct 15, all electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be in place. If needed, additional machines will be brought from Bihar and other States, officials have said.
It is a mammoth exercise as it will involve 5.8 crore voters as per the record shown in the last round of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections held in April. The elections have not been held for years. Last time, in 2016, it was announced but cancelled in the last minute. The standard excuse of the State election commission is that revision of electoral rolls is still under way.
As recently as in September in 2017, Justice N Kirubakaran of the Madras High Court directed the State election commission to conduct the polls by Nov 17 that year. The State Election Commission went in appeal against his order and a division bench quashed it.
The matter went in appeal to the Supreme Court and as recently as in July, the poll panel told the first bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that delay in local body polls was due to the ongoing delimitation of wards in accordance with the 2011 Census and it would be completed in September.
The State denied that absence of elected local body representatives had crippled development works in rural areas. It said it had appointed block development officers as special officers of village panchayats for uninterrupted discharge of civic maintenance responsibilities under the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act 1994.It said ample funds had been released to village panchayats in time for carrying out civic works.