Single-phase, decisive Tamil Nadu election on Tuesday: All you need to know
An electoral battle in the absence of historical leaders who shaped Tamil Nadu politics will be held on Tuesday in the single phase of polling. At stake is the political fate of 3,998 candidates and 234 assembly constituencies.
Bringing the fierce election campaign to an end, 6.28 crore voters of Tamil Nadu will exercise their franchise amid strict Covid-19 safety protocols. Touted as the most intense political battle in its electoral history, Tamil Nadu will witness voting in the absence of two stalwarts - AIADMK's J Jayalalithaa and DMK's M Karunanidhi.
AIADMK leader and chief minister K Palaniswami is seeking another term. He is contesting from the Edappadi segment in his home district of Salem and has canvassed aggressively. The party's ally BJP, hoping to gain prominence down south in Tamil Nadu, has fielded 20 candidates across the state.
The party is up against DMK and its party leader MK Stalin who is hoping to wrestle power away from the incumbent government. DMK chief MK Stalin, who spearheaded several campaign programmes against the ruling party, vigorously toured the state to challenge the ruling AIADMK. He is seeking re-election for the straight third term from the Kolathur seat. His son and party youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin is debuting from Chepauk-Triplicance constituency.
In a departure from other state's demography, Tamil Nadu has more women voters (3,19,39,112) than men (3,09,23,651). The voter list also includes 7,192 third gender people.
The list of high-profile contestants also includes deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam who is fighting the election again from his native Theni district's Bodinayakanur constituency. He has previously emerged victorious from the seat in the 2011 and 2016 polls.
Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), founded in 2018 and led by actor-politician Kamal Haasan, is also in the fray in this assembly election. Haasan is trying his luck from Coimbatore South, while BJP's state unit president L Murugan and the saffron party's Kushbhu Sundar are contesting from Dharapuram and Thousand Lights constituencies respectively.
Another AIADMK ally PMK is contesting from 23 constituencies and is pinning its hopes on measures like the 10.5 per cent internal reservation for Vanniyars, among the most backward communities. AIADMK's rival Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, led by TTV Dhinakaran (contesting from Kovilpatti) and Nam Tamizhar Katchi of Seeman (Tiruvotriyur) made a determined effort to woo voters. DMDK, which walked out of the AIADMK alliance over not being alloted the number of seats it sought, is fighting the polls in alliance with AMMK.
In the run-up to D-day, the high-pitched poll battle saw several senior BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP national chief JP Nadda campaign in the state. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also toured Tamil Nadu and covered many regions to woo voters, targeting the BJP for not 'respecting' Tamil culture and its ally, the AIADMK leadership, for 'bowing' before the Centre. The Congress, an ally of the DMK, is in the fray in 25 assembly seats.
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 all set to be done from '50 per cent' of the polling stations. A total of ₹428.46 crore worth seizures have been made in the run up to the polls, which includes a cash component of ₹225.52 crore.
AIADMK is in contesting on 191 seats (including allies who are contesting on AIADMK's two-leaves symbol) and DMK is fighting from 188 constituencies (including poll partners who are contesting on DMK's Rising Sun symbol). The DMK was in power during 2006-11.
The AIADMK, then led by late Jayalalithaa, won the 2011 polls hands down and also went on to retain power in 2016.
(With inputs from PTI)