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Friday, April 16, 2021

TN Assembly polls end peacefully, voter turnout 72.78 per cent

The polls, that began at 7 am and ended at 7 pm witnessed several COVID-19 affected people voting with Personal Protective Equipment on and DMK Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi was among them.

By: PTI | Chennai |
Updated: April 7, 2021 12:48:18 pm
Tamil Nadu elections, Chennai electionsVoters at Evaans Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Chennai's Taramani wait in line to cast their votes as Assembly elections are underway across the state. Express Photo: Shivani Ramakrishnan

The Tamil Nadu Assembly elections ended peacefully on Tuesday and the voter turnout stood at 72.78 per cent with people sealing the fate of nearly 4,000 candidates including that of AIADMK’s Edappadi K Palaniswami and DMK chief M K Stalin, the key contenders for power.

Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo told reporters that the EVMs and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail units functioned well and less than one per cent warranted replacements.

Among the constituencies, Palacode recorded the highest turnout of 87.33 per cent and Villivakkam with 55.52 per cent was the least. Among the districts, Karur recorded the highest turnout with 83.92 per cent while Chennai had the least with 59.06 per cent.

Tamil Nadu elections, Chennai elections Volunteers escort a wheelchair user out after casting his ballot in Chennai. Express Photo: Shivani Ramakrishnan

Tamil Nadu has 6.28 crore voters and a total of 3,998 candidates were in the fray.

No serious law and order issues were witnessed in the state and polling was by and large peaceful, he added.

In 2016, Tamil Nadu witnessed 74.26 per cent voter turnout and polls were held for 232 constituencies out of the total 234 that year and polls for two seats were held later.

The polls, that began at 7 AM and ended at 7 PM witnessed several COVID-19 affected people voting with Personal Protective Equipment on and DMK Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi was among them.

Sahoo said the final tally of COVID-19 affected people, who voted would be made available later.

Sporadic, poll related minor incidents were reported from a couple of places though there were no major untoward incidents. Kamal Haasan, whose Makkal Needhi Maiam is fighting Assembly polls for the first time alleged money distribution in Coimbatore and his party has lodged a complaint with the district poll authority seeking action.

On two men carrying a VVPAT machine/EVMs on a two-wheeler in Chennai, speculated initially as ‘booth-capturing,’ Sahoo said, ‘two staffers’ by ‘mistake’ did that.

A detailed enquiry was going on and as per preliminary findings, these were not used for polling. Strict action would be taken for ‘any violation’ of the Standard Operating Procedure, he asserted.

AIADMK Lok Sabha MP P Ravindhranath alleged he and his supporters were allegedly attacked by DMK men. Pointing to the damaged windscreen and window of his car, he alleged it was an attempt aimed at a ‘murderous assault’, adding ‘huge stones’ were used for the attack.

DMK’s Thondamuthur constituency nominee in Coimbatore district, Karthikeya Sivesenapathy alleged ruling AIADMK and BJP people tried to attack when he was travelling in a car.

The video on the ‘attack’ was ‘clear’ he told reporters, adding a complaint has been lodged. An AIADMK worker allegedly threatened him too, he claimed.

Two voters, including one at a polling station in Chennai, claimed that their votes had already been cast and they later voted, reportedly using ballot papers by invoking section 49 P of conduct of election rules.

Sahoo said the EVMs were being taken to 75 counting centres in the state and these have three levels of security, the first manned by the Central Armed Police Forces, and the rest by state police.

Tamil Nadu elections, Chennai elections Health volunteers thermally scan a voter before casting her ballot in Chennai. Express Photo: Shivani Ramakrishnan

Such centres were being monitored through CCTV network 24 x 7 till the conclusion of counting process on May 2, he said. The top official when asked if there was a possibility of re-polls in any constituency complaints, if any would be
looked into during usual scrutiny process on Wednesday.

The CEO said there were no major law and order issues anywhere, adding reported incidents were only minor in nature.

On incidents like the one involving the AIADMK MP and DMK nominee in Thondamuthur, reports have been sought from local officials, he said.

Chief Minister Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, DMK chief Stalin, Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan were among the leaders who voted.

Before voting, Palaniswami paid floral tributes to portraits of his late mother, AIADMK icons, M G Ramachandran, and J Jayalalithaa. Stalin visited the mausoleum of party patriarch M Karunanidhi and DMK founder C N Annadurai.

Actors Rajinikanth, Ajith Kumar were among the early voters and top star Vijay rode a bicycle to the polling booth. Even before polling began at 7 AM, people could be seen eagerly queuing up before the polling stations and voter information slips were distributed to the people to help them identify their booths.

As soon as people arrived at polling stations, they were provided sanitisers to clean their hands and then given a disposable glove. Some people who arrived without masks were asked to wear one to be allowed to vote.

The state had 88,937 polling stations, 1,29,165 ballot units, 91,180 control units (which comprise the Electronic Voting Machine) and an equal number of VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) units.

As many as 4,17,521 polling personnel were on duty and over 1.50 lakh security personnel including those from state police, Central Armed Police Force, and home guards were deployed.

There were 10,813 vulnerable polling stations and 537 critical and webcasting was done from ’50 per cent’ of the polling stations.

The DMK, in alliance with Congress and other parties is eyeing capturing power from arch rival AIADMK after 10 long years in the opposition.

The ruling AIADMK is pinning its hopes on its government’s performance and poll assurances to retain power yet again. The ruling party snatched power from DMK in 2011 and retained power in 2016.

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