Countdown starts: Fate of Modi, Rahul to be decided tomorrow

Counting centres in the city – Anna University, Loyola College and Queen Mary’s College – have come under tight security blanket.

Chennai: India in general and Tamilnadu in particular are eagerly waiting for the election results tomorrow, with a sense of suspense filling the air.

While the whole of country witnessed Lok Sabha polls, Tamilnadu, along with it, also saw the by-elections to 22 Assembly constituencies which were lying vacant.

Hence, the fate of 822 candidates in LS elections and 406 in by-poll to 22 Assembly seats in Tamilnadu would be known when the counting begins at 8 am tomorrow morning and initial trends were likely to be known in the afternoon.

About 67.11 per cent of the 90.99 crore electors had cast their vote in the Lok Sabha elections which was held in seven phases.

A total of 76.5 per cent voted in the by-polls, which were seen as an acid test for the leadership qualities for both the AIADMK and the DMK. For the first time in a Lok Sabha election the results of voting machines will be matched with slips generated by paper trail machines. The exercise will take place in five polling stations per Assembly segments. As per procedure, postal ballots would be the first to be counted. The paper trail machines slips will be counted in the end. First the slips will be counted and the EVM displays would be switched on later to match the results. In case of a mismatch, the results based in paper slip count will be considered as final.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several union ministers, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav are among key leaders who contested the polls.

TN in focus
The Tamilnadu government’s survival and stability would come under close watch as tomorrow would be the judgement day for the ruling AIADMK when counting of votes of the Assembly bypolls will be taken up among with Lok Sabha polls.

Though there are 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamilnadu, elections were held only for 38 seats after the Election Commission (EC) rescinded the polling for the Vellore seat following seizure of large amount of cash. Of the total 22 vacant assembly seats, bypoll for 18 seats were held along with single phase Lok Sabha polls on 18 April and for the remaining four seats on 19 May. Moreover, this was the first full-fledged elections faced by the State in the absence of two tall leaders and former Chief Ministers J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi who died in December 2017 and August 2018, respectively.

The outcome of the polls was keenly awaited as opinion polls favoured victory of the DMK-led combine in both LS and Assembly polls.

More than the Lok Sabha polls, the outcome of the bypoll to 22 Assembly seats is more crucial for the survival of the AIADMK government and the party has to win at least ten seats to ensure that it enjoyed a simple majority in the 234-member House.

The strength of AIADMK in the Assembly has come down to 114 from 136 (when it won in 2016)–three short of a simple majority–after the disqualification of 18 rebel MLAs owing allegiance to AMMK founder T T V Dhinakaran.

Three Independents, who won on AIADMK two leaves symbol in 2016 Assembly polls, have also turned against the government and were supporting Dhinakaran, who is also an MLA, while
three more MLAs–Rathinasabapathy of Aranthangi, Kalaiselvan of Vriddhachalam and A Prabhu of Kallakuruchi–too were said to be moving closer to AMMK, that threatened the very survival of the government.

In a latest twist, Speaker P Dhanapal issued show cause notices to the three MLAs as to why action should not be taken against them under anti-defection law and asked them to explain their anti-party activities within seven days. It created a furore and the Opposition parties cried foul, saying the Speaker was trying to alter the numbers by disqualifying the three members. But it was stayed by the Supreme Court after DMK president M K Stalin gave notice for a no-confidence motion against the Speaker.

The elections witnessed a four-cornered contest between the AIADMK-BJP led Front, the Opposition DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance (SPA), the AMMK of Dhinakaran and the nascent Makkal Neethi Maiam (MNM) of actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan.

Police story
As vote counting begins tomorrow morning, the police department has turned the State into a fort by laying out detailed security arrangements.

Around 5,000 police personnel will be deployed in the city at counting centers and at crucial places to avert any untoward incidents and 80,000 personnel will be on duty across the State.
There are 45 counting centres in Tamilnadu. The city Commissioner of police, A K Viswanathan visited the counting centres at Anna University, Queen Mary’s and Loyola College today to inspect the security arrangements there.

NT Bureau