Polling time extended in Madurai

Following representations that it would be difficult for people in Madurai and surrounding areas since both Lok Sabha polling date and Kallazhagar festival are falling on April 18, the Election Commission today decided to extend polling time up to 8 pm. Following this, as against the regular closing time of 5 pm, voters in Madurai will be allowed to exercise their franchise up to 8 pm."Enough security arrangements will also be made and it will be ensured that both the polling and Kallazhagar festival will happen in peaceful manner," sources said.

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. The district administration and the police towed the EC line, saying they could handle the crowd provided additional police force was requisitioned.

Meanwhile, with the general elections and by-poll for 18 Assembly constituencies slated to be held in Tamilnadu on 18 April, contestants will be filing their nominations from tomorrow. A salient feature of Chithirai festival - a convergence of Saivite and Vaishavite traditions - starts with rituals and events at Meenakshi Temple and concludes with return of Kallazhagar to his abode on the foothills of Alagarkoil.