Chennai: Voter turnout crossed 60 per cent in Tamil Nadu by evening as polling continued peacefully with key leaders including AIADMK’s K Palaniswami, O Panneerselvam and DMK chief M K Stalin exercising their franchise for the April 6 assembly polls on Tuesday.
Sporadic, poll related minor incidents were, however, reported from a couple of places though there were no major untoward incidents.
Till 5 pm, the polling was 63.60 per cent, Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo told reporters. Namakkal saw the highest of 70.79 per cent and Tirunelveli the lowest with 50.05 percent.
The ruling AIADMK filed a petition with the CEO against Udhayanidhi Stalin, DMK candidate from Chepauk-Triplicane segment here for allegedly wearing a party insignia that also encompassed party symbol ‘rising sun’ while voting. The AIADMK sought Udhayanidhi’s ‘disqualification.’
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.
In Salem district, a scuffle broke out in a polling station between a man who was wearing a ‘PMK’ party towel and a voter who objected to it and police intervened to disperse them. In Tiruvallur and Dindigul districts, AIADMK and DMK men came to blows near polling stations over allegations and counter claims of ‘cavassing votes.’
Two voters, including one at a polling station here, claimed that their votes had already been cast and they later voted, using ballot papers by invoking section 49 P of conduct of election rules. In Tamil Nadu, this rule became popular after actor Vijay starrer 2018 movie ‘Sarkar’ had a scene portraying its use.
At Kodangipatti in Ramanathapuram district, no voter reportedly turned up in polling station till evening as the locals announced ‘boycott’ of polls protesting against non-availability of basic amenities.
Sahoo 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.
Asked about an allegation that at a polling station in Virudhunagar, whichever candidate people chose on the EVM, it displayed only a particular symbol, the official said there were no such reports.
Only the symbol that was chosen gets recorded in the EVM and the same was corroborated in the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail units, he said.
Asked on the number of EVMs that encountered faults, he said it was s ‘very few’ and all were rectified and nowhere polls were stopped due to such matters.
Celebrities like Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, MNM leader, were among the early voters and top actor Vijay rode a bicycle to the polling booth leading to speculation by social media users who asked if it was a subtle ‘sign’ of opposition to rise in fuel prices.
His publicist clarified that the actor did so in view of car parking problems in the small street where the polling booth was located.
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.
People who had tested positive for coronavirus have been allowed to vote during the last hour of polling (6pm to 7 pm) and they would be provided with PPE kits, officials said.
Chief Minister Palaniswami cast his vote in his native Salem district and urged all people to cast their vote.
Speaker P Dhanapal voted in Salem, Panneerselvam in Theni district and ministers including SP Velumani and Sellur K Raju in Coimbatore and Madurai, respectively.
DMK president Stalin, after paying homage at the mausoleum of his party patriarch M Karunanidhi and party founder CN Annadurai, cast his vote here.
Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan, who is trying his luck for the first time in Assembly polls, cast his vote here before heading to Coimbatore from where he is contesting polls.
Haasan alleged money distribiution in Coimbatore and his party has lodged a compaint with the district poll authority seeking action on the matter.
BJP state unit chief L Murugan, who is contesting from Dharapuram, voted at a booth here.
Congress leader P Chidambaram, DMDK leader Premalatha Vijayakanth, Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman, PMK MP Anbumani Ramadoss, a slew of actors including Surya, Karthi and Sivakarthikeyan were among those who voted.
The state has 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 are on duty and over 1.50 lakh security personnel including those from state police, Central Armed Police Force, and home guards have been deployed.
There are 10,813 vulnerable polling stations and 537 critical and webcasting is being done from ’50 per cent’ of the polling stations.