Political parties in Tamil Nadu prep for upcoming local body polls
The DMK has been poaching strong leaders from the western region belonging to the AIADMK and Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM). Stalin while inducting Haasan’s lieutenant turned rebel R Mahendran in July had said that the party would have fared better in the west if people like Mahendran were with the DMK.
Political parties in Tamil Nadu are preparing themselves for the upcoming local body elections, the first since the assembly polls were held on April 6 and the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is focussing on the western region, the only districts where it fared poorly in the April 6 assembly polls.
Chief minister and DMK president M K Stalin huddled with district secretaries on Sunday to discuss the polls. The Supreme Court has ordered the Tamil Nadu state election body to complete rural local body polls in nine newly created districts before September 15. Before the end of the year elections to urban local bodies will be conducted. Elections to urban local bodies were last held in October 2011 and after their five year tenure was over issues over delimitation of wards arose and stalled the elections.
But elections to 27 rural local bodies were completed in 2011.
“Their tenure will continue,” said a senior DMK leader who was part of the meeting. “Today’s meeting focussed on the nine districts and since it is the first election since our win, the chief minister wants us to build on the goodwill gained so far,” he added.
MLAs and MPs belonging to the nine new districts--Vellore, Ranipet, Tirupattur, Kancheepuram, Chengalpet, Villupuram, Kallakuruchi, Tirunelvelu, Tenkasi-- were also present at the meeting. These regions are predominantly in the south which is the DMK’s stronghold and north where the party performed well, but the DMK is working to weaken the opposition AIADMK’s hold in the western region.
The alliance led by DMK won just 17 of the 50 seats in the region, while it almost swept all other regions in the state. The AIADMK-led alliance with the BJP won the remaining 33. The western belt, also known as the Kongu region, is also the only place where the BJP enjoys considerable support in comparison to its unpopularity elsewhere in the state and the national party hopes to grow from here. Two of BJP’s four MLAs are from this region.
The BJP has formed a 17-member panel to prep for the local body polls. “We will study our strengths in the panchayats, municipalities and corporations to analyse where we can contest,” said Karu Nagarajan, BJP’s state general secretary and a committee member. “As a first step we will collect nominations and then we will plan our strategy, campaign before sitting down with our alliance partners.”
The DMK inducted three MLAs from the western belt into its cabinet and also saw to it that it has representation from the largely present Gounder community from here to which former chief minister Edappadi Palanswami belongs. The DMK has been poaching strong leaders from the western region belonging to the AIADMK and Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM). Stalin while inducting Haasan’s lieutenant turned rebel R Mahendran in July had said that the party would have fared better in the west if people like Mahendran were with the DMK.
“Even while campaigning from last year, we were focussed on building our strength in the western region. We need to do more there,” the DMK leader said. The party is hoping that its popularity close on the heels of forming the government will help them.