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Auctioning of panchayat Vice-Prez post stirs hornet's nest

Written by: Staff
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Madurai, Nov 21 (UNI) An auction held for the post of panchayat vice-president at Kodikulam village in the ''caste-sensitive'' Usilampatti taluk of the district, has stirred up a hornet's nest.

The auction was intended to oust a CPI(M)-backed Dalit, elected for the post of vice-president in the civic poll, making the democratic exercise a farce.

A cross-section of villagers admitted that the auction took place on Saturday and the deputy's post went to the highest bidder, Mr Karuppu, a relative of an AIADMK district councillor for Rs 2.16 lakh. He had already paid an initial amount of Rs 10,000, reports confirmed.

Dominant castes of Kodikulam, reserved for Dalit women on rotation basis, had ensured the victory of Ms V Balamani, the candidate sponsored by them against two nominees supported by the CPI(M). However, they did not expect 24-year-old Marimuthu to become the vice-president, taking the sails off their plans of repeating a Pappapatti Panchayat here.

Pappapatti and three other Panchayats, have earned notoriety with the elected candidates, put up by Hindus, resigning immediately after assuming office.

Even while sponsoring a candidate for the post of president and making the election ''democratic'', they desisted from contesting in all the six non-reserved wards. With three members in a multi-member ward getting elected unopposed, Marimuthu became the deputy.

According to a CPI(M) functionary an auction was held even prior to the civic elections. The scheme of dominant castes, the Priamalai Kallars, a sub-sect of the Thevars, was to contest all the six wards in the byelections and bring a no-confidence motion against the incumbent vice-president and replace him with Mr Karuppu, who had won the auction, the functionary added.

''I have been chosen by the villagers as vice-president,'' admitted Mr Karuppu, adding that he would takeover the reins after the byelections and guide president Balamani.

Disclosing that Ms Balamani was fielded by the dominant caste only as a ''puppet to resign,'' he said she was still being forced to submit her papers.

However, Ms Balamani, who denied the auction like some of the community elders of the dominant caste, reiterated that she would not yield to any pressure.

The District Collector rushed to the village yesterday to ascertain facts about the auction. The Police Superintendent has been asked to investigate the matter.

UNI CR ROY HS BS1534

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