Tamil Nadu local body elections-2011
BJP fares better than Left, PMK and MDMK
AIDMK sweeps local body polls
By V Shanmuganathan
Local bodies are the nurseries of democracy. Strong local bodies are necessary for strengthening the democracy and for proper implementation of government’s schemes. Recently there were local body elections in Tamil Nadu and results were announced on October 21, 2011. People were surprised when they saw the election results. BJP recorded its presence by winning better seats.
Succeeding Nagercoil is well known but grabbing Mettupalayam municipality from Congress by a margin of over 2000 votes shows that BJP has support in the western belt. Inspite of “highly regionalised politics” in Tamil Nadu, BJP could win four corporation wards, 37 municipal wards, chairmanship of two municipalities, and 13 town panchayats, 181 town panchayat wards, two district panchayat wards and 31 wards of the Panchayat Unions. In total, it has won 270 of the total 19,720 posts for which elections were held. It is a long way to go but a good beginning for BJP. BJP can feel comparatively better off because it could at least secure chairmanship of two municipalities – Nagercoil and Mettupa-layam. Its future in Tamil Nadu is getting brighter.
For the first time in the electoral history, many of the Dravidian parties including the DMK have contested the local body elections without an alliance. This gave an opportunity to the people of Tamil Nadu to know the real strength of the political parties. Local body elections have some unique features.
Article 40 of the Constitution directs the state government to establish panchayats to serve as institutions of village self-government. The popularly elected village council or gram panchayat is basic unit. The district council of Zilla Parishad is the top level of the system. Its jurisdiction included bloc councils within a district.
The voters will look at the candidates instead of the party in local bodies. So a huge number of independent candidates not only contested but won the elections also. Many people could vote for the ruling party as funds for government schemes will be allotted to local bodies headed by the ruling party.
Chennai City Corporation, the state capital, with 44 lakh voters, 200 wards, 17,000 electronic voting machines (EVMs) and 4,876 polling booths is the biggest electorate directly voting to choose a mayor anywhere in the country. Saidai S Duraiswamy of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) won the elections with a margin of over 5.20 lakh votes in the election to the post of Chennai mayor. The party also got an overwhelming majority in the 200-member Chennai Corporation Council. It was the first election after the corporation limits were expanded by merging several adjacent local bodies.
AIADMK landslide victory
The ruling AIADMK, secured all the 10 municipal corporations, besides capturing over 89 municipalities, 285 town panchayats and thousand of wards and panchayats. As a whole AIADMK won 9,609 seats in the elections. DMK leadership and the cadre is very much dismayed and disgruntled due to corruption and land grab cases. So they could not do anything impressively. Shockingly Karunanidhi’s own son Azhagiri’s corporation ward DMK contestant could not win the election. He is defeated by AIADMK candidate.
The Congress is becoming insignificant in the state. After the elections to the state assembly in May this year in which it could manage only five of the 63 seats contested despite being in alliance with Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). And in these local body elections, it could not win even one corporation mayor or municipal chairman post.
The DMDK, actor Vijayakanth’s party is the second largest party in the states assembly with 29 members. He has managed only the fifth position in the overall performance chart. Despite contesting with CPM as an alliance partner, actor Vijaykanth’s party has failed to make a mark. In the past elections, voters had looked up to the DMDK as an alternative for the AIADMK and the DMK – Vijaykanth is losing the image of an alternative leader. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said the outcome of the by-election to the Tiruchi (West) assembly constituency and local body polls bore testimony to the good governance offered by the AIADMK rule in a short span. After this success, Jayalalithaa enthusiastically said, “I will create a prosperous Tamil Nadu through good governance and administration, by making it a model state to others”.
Panchayat institutions have been proclaimed as the vehicles of socio economic transformation of the government from the grass root level. Effective and meaningful functioning of these bodies would depend on active involvement, contribution and participation of all the citizens.