Bypoll to the R K Nagar constituency of Tamil Nadu, which was vacated due to former CM J Jayalalithaa’s death, on Thursday saw 77.68 per cent turnout, the highest in four previous elections, one of which was the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. According to figures released by the office of the Chief Election Officer, 75.92 per cent men and 79.21 per women cast their vote in the bypoll. The overall polling of 77.68 per cent is higher than polling in the 2011 Assembly polls (72.67 per cent), 2014 Lok Sabha polls (65.2 per cent), 2015 bypoll following Jayalalithaa’s acquittal in a disproportionate assets case (74.59 per cent) and the Assembly polls in May 2016 (67.69 per cent).
The constituency, which has more women voters than men and the majority of voters are daily wage labourers, recorded 10 per cent polling at 10 am and 41.6 per cent at noon. While the verdict in the 2G case might have kept many DMK sympathisers home till noon, labourers, mostly women, were seen thronging to polling booths after 3pm. This prompted poll officials to issue coupons for 5,000-odd voters who reached before 5 pm in 84 booths to facilitate their voting.
Addressing mediapersons on Thursday evening, AIADMK rebel faction candidate T T V Dinakaran said he will definitely win the election. Sources close to Dinakaran camp said their final estimate confirms that Dinakaran will win or finish second, relegating the AIADMK ruling faction’s candidate to the third place.
Dinakaran claimed that he had no role in releasing the video of Jayalalithaa in hospital. “If I wanted to do it, I would have done it much earlier with the Election Commission’s permission instead of inviting unnecessary trouble. There was nothing against Jayalalithaa or Sasikala. We were against the idea of releasing it as Jayalalithaa was wearing a night dress in it and it was not shot for public display. P Vetrivel released it as he was upset with malicious campaigns by the AIADMK ruling faction against Sasikala. I told him that he shouldn’t have done it; he said he will seek pardon from Sasikala when he meets her,” Dinakaran said.
Hundreds of Dinakaran supporters, who have come to the constituency from other districts for campaigning, stayed back on Thursday and made calls to voters to remind them to cast votes. AIADMK’s ruling faction leaders, however, said party workers from other districts left the constituency after the campaign ended.
While DMK leaders were confident that they will win the bypoll, party leader Kanimozhi, who was acquitted in the 2G case, told reporters in Delhi that DMK would have won the bypoll even if the positive outcome in the 2G case didn’t come on the polling day.