Posing a threat to its record of 76.5% set in 1967, the year that ended Congress rule in the state, the voter turnout in Wednesday’s elections in Tamil Nadu is expected to reach 80%.
And this, despite the temperature hitting 40 degree Celsius.
“This huge turnout is a new thrust for transition in Tamil Nadu,” said Ramu Manivannan, head of the department of politics and public administration, Madras University.
Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar said: “The final figure will be between 75 and 80%.”
The voting percentage recorded in the 2006 assembly polls was 70.
Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who is contesting from Tiruvarur near Tanjavur, 500 km south of Chennai, told press persons the chances of the DMK winning were as bright as the rising sun, the symbol of his party.
AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa was among the earliest voters at the Stella Maris College polling booth in central Chennai. She told press persons her alliance would win a landslide victory. “People are determined to throw the government out,” she said.
The other early voter was Deputy Chief Minister MK Stalin and his wife Durgavathi at Gopalapuram, also in central Chennai. Stalin was equally confident the DMK-led alliance would form the government.
Barring few clashes between workers of rival parties, polling was largely peaceful. In Madurai and surrounding southern districts, which are under the Election Commission’s lens because those are considered the fief of DMK strongman and union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister MK Alagiri, polling took place smoothly. Madurai collector U Sagayam, whom Alagiri had accused of being biased against the DMK, said, “Polling was peaceful and without any report of violence anywhere.”
The Madras high court dismissed on Monday a public interest petition seeking Sagayam’s removal.
The only hitches reported were technical. Electronic voting machines started giving trouble at a few polling booths but were rectified.
“There were a few complaints of people’s names being deleted from electoral rolls,” Praveen Kumar said.