In a record turnout, 73 per cent of the 5.50 crore electorate in Tamil Nadu cast their votes in 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in the single-phase voting today which passed off by and large peacefully.
The voting percentage of 73 per cent is marginally higher compared to 72.98 per cent polled in the 2009 elections.
The neighbouring union territory of Puducherry also witnessed a record turnout of 83 per cent of 8.85 lakh electorate casting their votes for the lone seat as against the 79.85 per cent in 2009 elections.
Minister of State in PMO V Narayanasamy is waging an herculean battle in a field of 30 candidates for his second successive win in Puducherry, amid challenge thrown by ruling AINRC and PMK.
The poll process which remained largely trouble-fee, however, was marred by a clash between AIADMK and DMK workers in Tenkasi over alleged attempt to influence voters by a Panchayat chief which left six persons injured.
In Madurai, three persons were injured when police made a lathicharge to disperse two groups of AIADMK and DMK men who clashed at a polling booth in Sikkandhar Chavadi locality.
The poll fortunes of 845 candidates, including DMK’s A Raja (Nilgiris) and Dayanidhi Maran (Central Chennai), P Chidambaram’s son Karti (Sivaganga), another Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar(Mayiladuthurai), BJP state president Pon Radhakrishnan and AAP leader and anti—nuclear activist SP Udhaya Kumar (both Kanyakumari) were sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines.
All the EVMs have been moved to respective strong rooms where those will be kept till May 16, the counting day.
Complaints by voters about delay in commencing the poll process due to technical snags in EVMs have came in from various parts but it did not affect the poll process in which 1.47 lakh security personnel kept an eagle—eyed vigil.
The voter enthusiasm was evident in almost all the constituencies as people queued up before polling stations including at the bypoll bound Alandur Assembly segment, as the brisk pace was maintained through the day.
The elections have turned out to be an acid test for arch rivals AIADMK and DMK, besides show of strength for the BJP-led NDA combination.
Congress, shorn of allies in the wake of DMK spurning its offer for a prepoll pact, contested from all 39 seats while the two Left parties, dumped by AIADMK over seat—sharing wrangle at the last minute, fielded nominees in 18 constituencies overall.
Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa had undertaken a gruelling campaign to ensure victory of her party candidates in all the 40 constituencies, including Puducherry, to realise her dream of playing a prominent role at the national polity post—elections.
Setting aside a host of problems, including the sibling war, DMK headed by the nonagenarian M Karunanidhi, has strained every nerve to check the winning streak of AIADMK and win the confidence of the electorate with just two years left for the 2016 Assembly polls.
In the 2009 general elections, DMK in alliance with Congress had won 18 seats while the latter got eight. AIADMK netted nine while MDMK, CPI, CP-M and VCK won one each.
In Alandur Assembly constituency in Chennai, where a bypoll was held, about 65 per cent of voters of the 3.13 lakh electorate cast their votes.
The city witnessed a minor clash between AIADMK and DMK men in a booth in Central Chennai constituency towards close of polling, police said.
Electoral authorities forced five companies, found functioning in an IT park in Chennai violating its directive to declare a holiday, to close down and lodged a complaint with the police against them.
Technical glitches in Electronic Voting Machines held up polling briefly in several polling booths across the state, according to reports received here.
A report from Madurai, quoting officials, said an average 70 per cent of votes were cast in the southern districts, and the polling was peaceful barring the two incidents.
As usual, there were boycotts by groups of voters in some places protesting against local issues.
More than 2,500 voters in and around Nanjanad village in Nilgiris (SC) constituency, boycotted the polls protesting government apathy to solve the long—pending issue of performing pooja at a Shiva Temple.
In Puducherry, Chief Electoral Officer T Srikanth said polling was peaceful except for a few minor incidents.
Yanam region came out with an impressive 89 per cent turnout.
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