RK Nagar records 77.68% voter turnout, polling ends peacefully
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RK Nagar records 77.68% voter turnout, polling ends peacefully

The result of the bypoll is likely to be seen as a report card of the 17-month-old AIADMK government.

india Updated: Dec 21, 2017 22:19 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
RK Nagar bypoll,AIADMK,DMK
Voters wait in long queues to cast their votes for the RK Nagar assembly bypoll in Chennai on Thursday. (PTI Photo )

Polling for the high-stakes RK Nagar assembly bypoll in Tamil Nadu ended peacefully with a record 77.68% voter turnout on Thursday.

There might be some variation in the polling percentage after the figures of some booths where voting went beyond 5pm are taken into consideration.

The voter turnout is higher than the 68% recorded in the 2016 assembly elections when former chief minister late J Jayalalithaa contested the seat.

The outcome of the election is likely to be seen as a report card of the 17-month-old AIADMK government headed by chief minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneeerselvam. The ruling party is facing a strong challenge from sidelined leader TTV Dhinakaran and an aggressive DMK.

Polling which was little over 20% at around 11am, saw a spurt after the 2G verdict-- acquitting the DMK leaders A Raja and Kanimozhi – was announced by a special CBI court in New Delhi. Brisk polling was witnessed since then in all the polling booths, monitored by nine election observers.

There are 59 candidates in the fray, but the fight is essentially a triangular contest among ruling AIADMK’s veteran leader E Madhusudhanan, DMK’s N Maruthu Ganesh and Dhinakaran, contesting as an independent.

The BJP is also contesting the seat, which fell vacant after the demise of Jayalalithaa in December last year. It has fielded K Nagarajan, a local party worker, as its candidate.

The run up to the elections saw parties trading charges of money being distributed among voters. The poll panel countermanded the elections in April this year after income tax officials recovered Rs 89 crore from an aide of state health minister C Vijayabhaskar.

Till Wednesday, starting from November 24, a total of Rs 30,79,382 unaccounted cash was seized and 124 FIRs filed for election violations/offences. Fifteen persons were remanded to judicial custody, 122 taken into preventive custody and 83 vehicles seized for violations.

The polling was held after the Madras high court on November 21 ordered the poll panel to hold byelection to the seat before December 31, questioning how a seat can be left vacant for nearly one year.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made with around 15 companies of para-military forces and over 3000 security personnel posted across the constituency. Hundreds of CCTVs, flying squads and static surveillance teams were also deployed as force multipliers.

Chennai police commissioner AK Viswanathan himself was on the area overseeing the law-and-order situation. Joint commissioner (traffic) Prem Anand Sinha was made in charge of law and order for the constituency.

RK Nagar has 2.26 lakh voters of whom 1.16 lakh are women.

Counting of votes will be taken up on December 24 and the results are expected to be out by afternoon that day.

First Published: Dec 21, 2017 22:18 IST