Madurai, Mar 18:
The polling time has been extended up to 8 pm in Madurai on April 18 as the city will be celebrating Kallazhagar festival which is slated to take place on the same day.
This was announced by Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahu.The day Election Commission of India announced the Lok Sabha poll schedule, political parties and people from various quarters complained about the date clashing with the annual car festival of Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple and sought to change the polling date.
S Parthasarathy, a resident of Madurai in his petition prayed to the high court seeking to change the election date for Madurai Parliamentary constituency from April 18 to some other date as the election date falls in between the famous Chithirai festival.
When the petition was taken up for hearing on Tuesday, the petitioner’s counsel stated more than five lakh people from Madurai and the southern districts would participate in the festival.
The counsel further stated that while ECI is taking several steps to increase voter turnout in the elections, polling on April 18 would adversely affect the percentage as people from Madurai and surrounding districts would not be able to exercise their democratic duty.
Recording the submissions, a division bench of justice N Kirubakaran and justice S S Sundar observed that as Chithirai festival is a bigger and continuous festival in which more than 5 lakh people take part every day, they would not even be able to reach the polling booths on the day of election. They further observed that it is very unfortunate that the state government and police have not given such ground realities.
With the general elections and by-poll for 18 Assembly constituencies slated to be held in Tamil Nadu on 18 April, contestants will be filing their nominations from tomorrow.
The last date of filing nomination in Tamil Nadu is 26 March and the papers will be scrutinised on 27 March. The last date to withdraw nominations is 29 March.
Elections to the 17th Lok Sabha are being conducted in seven phases in the country. The first phase will be held on 11 April, second on 18 April, third on 23 April, fourth on 29 April, fifth on 6 May, sixth on 12 May and seventh phase on 19 May. Election results of all the phases will be announced 23 May.