Assembly elections: Last leg of polling in southern states today

  • K V Lakshmana, Chennai
  • Updated: May 16, 2016 00:54 IST
Polling officials check the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) at a distribution centre in Chennai ahead of voting for Tamil Nadu assembly polls. (PTI File Photo)

Tamil Nadu is all set to vote for a new assembly along with neighbouring Puducherry and Kerala, the polling for which will begin at 7am on Monday. However, reports of large scale distribution of cash for votes from different parts of the state have cast a shadow on the polls.

On Saturday, Nirvachan Sadan postponed the elections in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur assembly segments in view of the “seriously vitiated atmosphere” due to cash seizures since April.

“The commission is satisfied that the current electoral process in Aravakurichi assembly constituency has been seriously vitiated on account of unlawful activities of the candidates and political parties and their workers in bribing the electors and unlawfully inducing them by offering money and other gifts of consumable items to woo them in their favour,” the Election Commission said on Saturday.

It is amid this campaign against misuse of money that Tamil Nadu’s 5.82 crore voters will get a chance to exercise their franchise on Monday to elect 232 members to the assembly. A total of 3,776 candidates are in fray, including 320 women and two belonging to the third gender. The total number of polling stations is over 65,600.

In all there are four chief ministerial candidates, AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, PWF-DMDK-TMC combine choice film star-turned-politician Vijayakanth and Pattali Makkal Katchi’s Anbumani Ramadoss, a former union health minister.

But the fight is essentially between the two Dravidian majors – the AIADMK and the DMK. J jayalalithaaa is virtually going at it alone, barring a couple of minor allies, whereas the DMK has teamed up with its trusted old ally, the Congress and few other regional parties.

Meanwhile, the EC on Sunday directed the DMK to stop campaigning on the social media and sought an explanation from Karunanidhi as to why action should not be taken against him for “violating” the code of conduct. The DMK also sought more time from the EC to reply to the notice it was served along with the AIADMK for allegedly violating the code of conduct in their manifestos.

In Puducherry, the battle is between two Congress parties – the one led by Sonia Gandhi and the breakaway party led by N Rangasamy, who is the chief minister. There are a total of 334 candidates in fray including 21 women. 

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