Stage set for 2019 polls in TN; 1.4 lakh cops for security

From this morning, election officials are busy with making the booths ready for the polling tomorrow.

Chennai: An estimated 5.99 crore electorate- 3.02 crore women and 2.95 crore men- are expected excerise their franchise to decide the fate of 822 candidates, including 63 women, in fray for the Lok Sabha seats and 269 candidates, including 27 women, for the 18 Assembly seats.

The single phase polling in the State would commence from 7 am tomorrow and will continue till 6 pm, except in Madurai, where it would be extended till 8 pm in view of the Chithirai festival.

Polling would be held in a total of 67,720 booths of which 8,293 were identified as sensitive and vulnerable, where additional para-military forces would be deployed.

The EC has made arrangements for live webcasting of the poll proceedings in about 30,000 booths. A total of 160 companies of para-military forces would be deployed on poll duty across the State along with 1.4 lakh police personnel, drawn from fire, prison, forest departments, home guards NSS volunteers and retired personnel.

In Chennai alone, about 15,000 police personnel would be on poll duty. For the first time, Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) will be used in all the polling booths, along with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), which were despatched to the booths today.

The nearly month-long heated campaign for the single phase Lok Sabha elections in Tamilnadu drew to a close yesterday evening with Chief Minister K Palaniswami, DMK president M K Stalin and leaders of other parties making a final bid to woo voters.

Campaign ended at 6 pm also for the byelections to 18 state assembly seats as well. Allegations of use of money flew thick and fast in the run up to the polls with the Election authorities seizing over Rs 127 crore cash and gold and other precious metals with a total value of Rs 284 crore in various parts of the state.

On the last day of campaign, Palaniswami distributed pamphlets in Salem highlighting achievements of his government and the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who campaigned in Theni, hit out at DMK president M K Stalin for claiming the AIADMK will fade away after the polls. Winding up his campaign in Tiruvarur, Stalin alleged the AIADMK and BJP governments did not do anything for the people and hence ‘could not spell out’ any achievements.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi were among the central leaders who addressed election rallies in Tamilnadu raising the political temperature.

DMDK chief Vijayakanth campaigned only for a day on Monday due to health issues and sought votes for candidates of the AIADMK-led alliance here.

AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, who addressed voters in the city, asserted his outfit represented the real welfare legacy of Jayalalithaa and sought their support.

Photos: C Santhosh

NT Bureau