Peaceful polling in TN, Pondicherry, Kerala
Polling in the two southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the Union Territory of Pondicherry has been on since seven in the morning. Unlike Delhi, the south has by far been event free. This final phase is crucial for most parties, particularly NDA which is hoping it fares well in Tamil Nadu as it has slim chances of many much of a dent in Kerala.
Polling to elect 39 members to the Lok Sabha from Tamil Nadu began on a brisk note this morning. An estimated 40 per cent of total 4.72 crore voters cast their votes by noon on Monday, official sources said.
In Chennai, there were no untoward incident from any where and the polling was 'peaceful', the city police Commissioner R Nataraj told newsmen after a visit to some of the booths in the three constituencies in the metropolis. Large queues of voters, specially women, could be seen outside the polling booths across the city.
Jayalalithaa and several others complained that the names of several voters were missing in the electoral rolls.
A Vellore report said 19 eunuchs cast their votes for the first time in a colony at Aarimuthu mottur, near Vellore.
Janata party Chief Dr Subramanian Swamy and former Union Minister and Congress candidate, P Chidambaram cast their votes in Madurai and Sivaganga respectively.
Polling was brisk in Mangalore (Res) assembly constituency, where a by-poll is being held. The vacancy was caused by the resignation of DPI Leader, Thol Thirumavalavan after his party was denied accommodation in the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance.
Police said balloting started in the morning without any hiccups. Large number of people began arriving at the polling booths much before the polling started at 7.00 am this morning, police added.
By 11.00 am an estimated 22 per cent of 4.72 crore electorate in Tamil Nadu had exercised their franchise for the state's 39 Lok Sabha constituencies.
While three Chennai city constituencies reported brisk polling of 30 per cent, in the districts percentage ranged between 18 to 25, official sources said.
The fate of 571 candidates would be decided in today's polls as nearly 4.72 crore voters are likely to exercise their franchise across the state.
The prominent personalities who are in the fray include Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan (BJP - Nagercoil), former Union Ministers, TR Baalu (DMK - south Madras), AK Moorthy (PMK - Chengalpattu), Ginjee Ramachandran (MDMK - Vandavasi), E Ponnusamy (PMK - Chidambaram), KV Thanga Balu (Cong - Salem), R Prabhu (Cong - Nilgiris), Dr Subramanian Swamy (Janata - Madurai), A Raja (DMK - Perambalur) Dhanushkodi Adhithan (Cong - Tirunelveli), P Chidambaram (Cong - Sivaganga).
Over 50,000 Electronic Voting Machines would be used for recording votes in 45,729 polling booths in the state.
An estimated 12 to 15 per cent of the electorate cast their votes in the first two hours, police said adding in many places polling was brisk.
Former Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi and his grand-nephew and Central Chennai nominee Dayanidhi Maran cast their votes at a booth in the city's Gopalapuram area while former Union Minister and South Chennai DMK candidate TR Baalu was among the first to exercise his franchise in Kodambakkam area.
TNCC President GK Vasan and BJP national Secretary L Ganesan also exercised their franchise in the city.
Later responding to a question on which party would form the next Government at the Centre, Karunanidhi told newsmen "You will come to know on May 13".
Asked about the victory chances of the Democratic Progressive Alliance, he said "it has already been decided".
At many booths in the city, voters, despite having photo identity cards, could not exercise their franchise because their names did not figure in the electoral list.
Reports of brisk polling was reported from several parts of the state. There were also complaints of missing of voters names in many booths.
The polling was generally peaceful and no incidents reported so far.
Polling was brisk in rural areas while it picked up after a couple of hours in urban limits, reports from Coimbatore, Salem and Tiruchirappalli said. In Madurai too brisk polling was reported.
About 12 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in the first three hours in Coimbatore and Pollachi constituencies.
State BJP President and candidate for Coimbatore Lok Sabha seat CP Radhakrishnan and his CPI rival, K Subbarayan, were among the early voters to cast their ballots in Tirupur.
In Madurai, polling began on a brisk note with more than 20 per cent of the electorate casting their votes by 10 am.
Long queues were seen in almost all the polling booths there while in rural areas though queues were absent polling was brisk.
According to reports from southern districts, most of the polling booths reported brisk voting with an estimated 20 per cent voters casting their ballots so far.
Casting his vote in Sivaganga, Congress candidate and former union Minister P Chidambaram told reporters that the brist polling indicated that people were 'sore' about the ruling party and wanted to teach it a lesson.
Complaints of delays in start of polling due to problems in activating the EVMs were received from several booths.
Long queues could be seen in several places in Salem.
In the neighbouring Union Territory of Pondicherry, an estimated 6.36 lakh voters are expected to cast their votes for the lone lok sabha seat.
By noon an estimated 35 to 40 per cent of the 6.26 lakh voters in the Union Territory had exercised their franchise in the election to the lone Lok Sabha constituency, officials said.
Polling began on a dull note, but picked up as the day progressed. Polling was brisk in urban and semi-urban areas and men voters were comparatively in large numbers at the booths.
Returning Officer V Candavelou said no untoward incident had been reported from anywhere so far.
As many as 21 contestants are in the fray but the tussle is mainly between BJP leader Lalitha Kumaraamangalam and Prof M Ramadoss of the PMK, fielded by the DMK-led DPA.
Chandavelou said there was an oral representation by an MLA that a good number of voters names were not found in the electoral rolls in the constituency.
Chief Minister N Rangaswamy along with his mother voted at a booth in his assembly constituency of Thattanchavady.
An average 30 per cent of 2.10 crore electorate in Kerala cast their ballots for 20 Lok Sabha seats when the polling was half way through by and large peacefully in clear weather across the state on Monday, official sources said here.
The polling which began on a slow pace picked up momentum within an hour as long queues were seen before a majority of the 20,333 polling booths, of which 1,904 were identified as 'sensitive.'
Barring minor clashes involving workers of rival political parties, no major incident of violence had been reported from anywhere.
Three persons, including an ex-service guard on poll duty, collapsed and suffered natural deaths near polling booths in different places in the state.
An LDF worker was admitted to a hospital in Kollam after being stabbed allegedly by an activist of the newly floated 'Left Front' at Ochira.
The highest percentage of 42 was recorded in Vatakara in north Kerala while the lowest 21.9 per cent was clocked in Chirayinkizhu near the state capital.
In several booths, errors developed by Electronic Voting Machines held up polling briefly in the initial hours but the voting process resumed after rectifying the machines, official sources said.
Early voters in the state capital included Chief Minister AK Antony and Union Minister and BJP candidate O Rajagopal, while Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan cast his ballot in Punnapra in Alappuzha District.
Till 11.00 am an estimated 21.8 per cent polling was recorded, official sources said. While an average nine per cent polling was recorded in the first two hours for 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala where voting is in progress in a peaceful atmosphere.
A total of 140 cases of minor errors to EVMs were reported from different parts. The voting, however, resumed soon after rectifying the machines, sources in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer said.
Though the weather is largely pleasant in most part of the state, an abrupt rain around 9 am affected the flow of voters here.
While an average 10.5 per cent polling was recorded in the first two hours in the state capital, 7.5 per cent recorded in the nearby Chirayinkizhu, 8 per cent in Kollam and 7.5 per cent in Adoor, official sources said.
In Elamakkara in Kochi, one Antony, a polling agent for the Congress candidate Edward Edezhath, died in a similar way.