Moderate polling in Tamilnadu

Chennai: About 38.39 per cent of the total 6.29 crore electorate have cast their ballots till 1.30 pm, as the single phase polling in one of the most fiercely contested Assembly elections in Tamilnadu apart from the by-poll to the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat, progressed peacefully.

Tamilnadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo told reporters that 26.29 per cent of votes were recorded in the first four hours till 11 am.

While Namakkal district recorded the highest poll percentage of 28.33 per cent, the southern Tirunelveli district recorded the lowest of 20.98 per cent.
Chennai city recorded 23.67 per cent, he added.

A total of 3,998 candidates are in the fray to elect the 16th Assembly. For the Kanyakumari bypoll, which was necessitated following the death of Congress MP H Vasanthakumar, 33.79 per cent votes were polled till 1.30 pm.

The bypoll witnessed a direct fight between former Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan of BJP and Vasantha kumar’s son Vijay Vasanth of Congress.

The BJP is facing the polls as part of AIADMK alliance and the Congress as an ally of the Opposition DMK.

As the Covid pandemic protocols are in force, polling for the 234-Assembly seats began in more than 88,000 polling booths across the State and is continuing peacefully.

Barring for some minor glitches in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), that delayed the polling process, brisk turn out is reported in various booths across the State as people, in a bid to beat the searing hit – Tamilnadu is in the grip of intense heat wave for the last few days – turned up early to cast their ballots.

The elections will witness a five-cornered contest with the fronts headed by the traditional dravidian rivals, the ruling AIADMK and the Opposition DMK, vying with each other to win the confidence of the voters, apart from the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) of actor-politician Kamal Haasan, ousted AIADMK leader and late J Jayalalithaa’s close aide V K Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran’s AMMK and actor-director Seeman’s Naam Tamizhar Katchi in the fray.

Though it appeared a five-cornered contest on paper, it will once again be a two-horse race, with the main fight between the AIADMK and the DMK.

This election will be an acid test for the leadership of the AIADMK and the DMK, who are testing the waters in the absence of two tall leaders and late Chief Ministers J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi respectively, notwithstanding the DMK sweeping the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

While AIADMK is eyeing for a hat-trick of wins, having won in 2011 and 2016 Assembly polls, the DMK, which on its own is claiming to be banking on the anti-incumbency factor, is desparate to come back to power after being in the Opposition for ten years, in what is billed as a no-holds barred contest.

 

NT Bureau