Tuesday, Sep 16, 2003
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By R.K. Radhakrishnan
Filing of nominations began today. Pappapatti, Keeripatti, Kottakachiyendhal and Nattarmangalam, where the post of panchayat president has been reserved for the SC, have not allowed a Dalit to occupy the post. In one recent instance, though Pappapatti and Keeripatti elected presidents, they resigned immediately after the elections. The situation persists regardless of the party in power in the State. It was in 1996 the four villages along with many others in the State were reserved for SCs for 10 years. Since then there has been sporadic trouble each time local bodies elections were announced.
The State Election Commissioner, V.Palanichamy, today told presspersons here that the Government had constituted a nine-member committee as per a September 12 order. The PWD Minister, O.Paneerselvam, heads the panel. The other members are C. Karuppasamy, Inbathamizhan (both ministers), C. Srinivasan, K. Malaisamy and S.P.M. Syed Khan (all MPs) and K.K.Sivasamy and L.Santhanam (MLAs). Earlier, the Commission wrote to the State Government on the situation in the villages and pointed out that after the October 2001 Statewide poll, it held at least three `casual' elections. But the response from these villages was poor.
Asked whether it was the SEC letter or the observation by the Commission of Scheduled Castes that made the Government constitute the committee, Mr. Palanichamy replied that the GO said the panel was constituted "to find out the reason for the non-conduct of panchayat elections, to explain to the local people their right to rule themselves"
Mr. Palanichamy said of the 74,631 candidates, who had contested the rural local body elections since October 2001, as many as 59,959 submitted details relating of their election expenditure, a mandatory requirement under election laws. After the SEC sent notices to the remaining, 8,397 filed their expenditure statements. This left 6,275 candidates. They would be declared ineligible to contest for the next three years. A communication to this effect was already sent to 1,057 persons.
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