At a time when politics has infiltrated every nook and corner of the country, four villages under M Pudukulam panchayat in the district present a unique picture. Residents of Thiruvarai, Keela Villanenthal, Muthaliar Pudukulam and Mela Villanenthal villages have collectively vowed not to hoist any party flag or take freebies and cash for votes.
“Unity is more important than party affiliation,” a resident of Muthaliar Pudukulam panchayat said, adding, “Members of Dalit communities and other religion have been coexisting peacefully here for the past several decades. So, we don’t want politics to creep in and destroy the harmony.”
However, there is no blanket ban on voting. The villagers have been advised to exercise their right based on the merits of the candidates, said Kanthaiah, a septuagenarian from the panchayat.
“Accepting money for vote will tantamount to selling one’s principles. We have people supporting different ideologies and parties living together peacefully. We do not allow them to flaunt their outfits’ symbols and polarise sections,” he added.
According to him, the only flag allowed in the panchayat is the national tricolour. “The rule not to allow any party flag has been in practice for the past several decades. We are not averse to campaigning. In fact, we are ready to accord them warm reception. However, they won’t be able to lure us with cash or freebies,” he said.
The remote panchayat comes under Kamuthi union limit near Sayalkudi. Murugan, a panchayat president, said, “We give priority to unity and harmony and the rules laid down by seniors have ensured both in the panchayat. Though they are discouraged from flaunting party ideologies, there is no ban on supporting or voting for a party.”