With the Election Commission (EC) announcing that Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will be held in one phase on April 24, major political parties scrambled to wrap up seat-sharing talks with their allies.
Besides, by-election to Alandur Assembly constituency would be held parallely on April 24. The bypoll was necessitated due to the resignation of Panruti S Ramachandran.
The window for filing filled up nomination papers in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will open on March 29 (Saturday)and close on April 5 (Saturday). Scrutiny of nomination papers will take place on April 7 (Monday) and the last date for withdrawing nominations will be April 9.
With the EC announcing the poll schedule, its model code of conduct has come into force. Within a few hours, photographs on the functions attended by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa displayed near the Information Department at the Secretariat were removed and replaced with the EC’s appeal to voters.
Addressing a press conference, Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar said the State government had already been asked to stop the distribution of freebies like fans, mixies, grinders, laptops etc., to the voters, in accordance with the code of conduct.
He said the government should not announce any financial grants in any form or promises thereof; or announce any new scheme or sanction funds for them. Ministers and other political executives should not lay foundation stones or attend inaugural functions of projects or schemes of any kind. Those who are willing to include their names in the electoral rolls can do so till March 25, the CEO said and added that only applications for inclusion in the rolls would be accepted and not for deletion or modification. On March 9, a special campaign will be conducted across the State in all polling stations to enable voters to verify their names on the poll rolls. If someone finds his/her name has been wrongly deleted, then the person can file Form 6 application for inclusion.
Responding to queries, the CEO said he had sought the advice of the EC with regard to the ‘leaves symbol’ in Small Buses and a similar symbol in front of the MGR memorial and the continuance of the State DGP. “The EC is likely to clarify these issues within a day or two,” he added. On the functioning of Amma eateries, the CEO said they could function, but there should be no portraits of the CM.
The CEO further said in a special effort, the EC had devised a software that would enable voters to know whether their names are present on the electoral rolls. A number would be announced within a few days using which voter can send their EPIC number and find out their polling booth.
Monitoring of expenditure by political parties would start with immediate effect. There would three flying squads in each Assembly constituency and the number would go up in the coming days. Political parties cannot put up posters, bills, cutouts, hoardings etc., in public and private properties in urban areas. If they are not removed within two days, then an FIR would be filed against those responsible for that.