The Election Commission decision to provide postal ballot facility for senior citizens above 80 years of age has invited stringent opposition from political parties like the DMK, MDMK, MNM and the Congress.
The opposition parties are wary that in several constituencies of the state, the victory margin was thin and if senior citizens above the age of 80 years are provided postal ballot facility, it could lead to malpractices.
M Muthuswamy, DMK Chennai city secretary, while speaking to IANS said, “The Election Commission decision to provide postal ballot facilities for senior citizens above 80 years will possibly lead to malpractices and the administrative machinery which is in charge of the entire operation can indulge in providing support to the ruling front which has BJP as its ally.”
In the 2016 assembly elections, the victory margin was less than 100 votes in two constituencies while it was less than 1000 in 18 constituencies. There are more than 12.89 lakh such voters in the Tamil Nadu elections.
Poll pundits who are in charge of the electioneering are of the opinion that this number is more than enough to swing votes in favour of the ruling front.
K Selvaganapathy, whose agency Centre for Poll Studies has been conducting a detailed study on the election trends, told IANS, “In several constituencies, the victory margin was very less and if senior citizens above 80 years of age are given postal ballot facilities, then there can be malpractices in favour of the ruling front. The minor difference is enough to alter the election result and the election officials must take this into account.”
A case has already been filed in the Tamil Nadu High Court against this decision of the Election Commission.
Sources in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) told IANS that the booth level officers of the department have already started distributing postal ballots to senior citizens above 80 years.
A senior officer attached to the CEO while speaking to IANS said, “The last date for returning the postal ballot forms distributed to such senior citizens is March 16. Within 24 hours after the withdrawal of nomination, ballot papers will be printed and sent to the senior citizens.”
DMDK leader and party deputy general secretary LK Sudhish told IANS that, “There are possibilities of malpractices in postal ballot for senior citizens and the Election Commission must clarify how they will conduct a fair and free postal ballot.”