Almost six crore voters will be exercising their franchise in Tamil Nadu when the State votes for 38 Parliamentary constituencies and bypolls to 18 Assembly constituencies on Thursday.
It is essentially a fight between the AIADMK-led alliance which includes the BJP, PMK, and DMDK among others, and the Secular Democratic Front (SDF)-led DMK, along with the Congress, VCK, MDMK, and the Left parties.
The Dhinakaran-led AMMK, Naam Thamilar Katchi, and actor-turned-politician Kamal Hassan’s MNM are also in the fray.
Here are the live updates:
39.49% voting recorded till 1 p.m.
Tamil Nadu has recorded a voting percentage of 39.49 till 1 p.m. 384 EVMS and 692 VVPATs have been changed so far.
Here is the constituency-wise break-up
Tamil Nadu recorded 30.62 per cent polling till 11 am.
Arani polled the highest (36.51%) while Chennai Central polled the minimum (22.89%).
Cuddalore | 11:25 am
Brisk polling in Cuddalore
Brisk polling was recorded in the early hours of Thursday across the constituency.
Among the heavyweights who cast their votes were TNCC president K. S. Alagiri who cast his vote at the Panchayat Union Elementary School in Keerapalayam near Chidambaram.
As of 9 a.m., Cuddalore had recorded 5 per cent polling.
Long queues built up at the polling booth at Cuddalore Marketing Committee.
The commencement of voting was delayed by about half an hour at the St. Joseph HSS in Kammiyanpettai in Cuddalore due to a technical glitch in the machine.
Polling in Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga begins on a sluggish note
Polling began on a sluggish note both in Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituencies as they recorded 11.57% and 5.53% of polling respectively till 9 a.m. after voting commenced at 7 a.m. on Thursday.
Voting process suffered delay of 30 to 40 minutes in at least 10 polling stations in Ramanathapuram constituency and about 20 in Sivaganga constituency following complaints of problems in the electronic voting machines and voters’ verifiable paper audit trial (VVPAT) machine.
After officials rectified the faults and replaced the faulty EVMs and VVPATs, voting commenced and progressing smoothly, District Election Officers and Collectors K. Veera Raghava Rao (Ramanathapuram) and J. Jayakanthan (Sivaganga) said. Polling picked up after 9 a.m., they said.
Deputy chief minister O. Panneerselvam cast his vote at a polling station in Periakulam accompanied by his family members. Standing in the queue for over 45 minutes, he exercised his vote.
Polling was going on brisk in Theni and it was largely peaceful in Andipatti and Periakulam where by poll was underway.
Gummudipoondi residents boycotting the poll
As many as 500 residents of Nagaraja Kandigai in Gummudipoondi has decided to boycott the elections as they are suffering from pollution from an iron factory that was closed a few years ago. However, the residents claim that the factory was reopened recently due to which the pollution – both air and water – started again.
Peace meetings were held a few times with factory representatives and govt officials, but the villagers walked out; the residents also surrendered their ration cards two months ago.
They also tied black flags on the road leading to village, said N. Kumar, a resident.
Currently, police has been deployed in the area. Local tahsildar and other officials have promised that the factory will be closed, but the residents are not convinced. They claim that they will shift to Andhra Pradesh if no solution is provided
The overall poll percentage for Tamil Nadu was 13.48% till 9 am.
Karur | 9:45 am
Polling was by and large peaceful in Kaur Lok Sabha constituency. The constituency registered 10.1 per cent polling in the first two hours.
Collector T. Anbalagan, who is visiting various places to monitor the progress of pollling, told The Hindu that there was no untoward incident so far. There were some initial glitches in the functioning of EVM. They have been sorted out.
He said that there was delay in commencing the polling at a booth in Vedasandue due malfunctioning of VVPAT unit. It was immediately replaced.
Tension had prevailed in Karur on Tuesday following a clash between AIADMK and DMK cadres, on the final day of campaign.
“As DMK president, I urge all voters to come and vote so as to bring about a change in the government. All of you should vote. I hope people are not influenced by money being distributed by some parties,” DMK president and Leader of Opposition M.K. Stalin said after casting his vote in Chennai.
Mr. Stalin also accused the Election Commission of “functioning like an ally of the ruling governments in the Centre and the State.”
I hope the Election Commission attends to all EVMs that have developed snags in various places, he added.
Blockade in Hosur
Irate commuters stage a blockade over lack of buses in Hosur. Krishnagiri Collector Dr. S. Prabhakar steps in and orders Hosur industrial units buses to start plying.
TNSTC buses are not available, according to local reports.
The inter-state bus terminus in Hosur serves as the entry point for people visiting Tamil Nadu from Karnataka and Kerala. Since Karnataka is also voting on Thursday, there is unprecedented rush in the bus station.
Polling begins on a brisk note in TN’s southern districts
Polling commenced on a brisk note in southern districts of Tamil Nadu from 7 am. According to reports, returning officers exercised their votes. Ministers, former ministers, MPs and MLAs also cast their votes.
Theni SP V. Baskaran said that polling began on a peaceful note.
Theni Returning Officer Pallavi Baldev said the arrangements were made for differently-abled persons to cast their votes with ease.
In pockets like Kodaikanal, polling had been a little bit slow.
In Ramanathapuram, district election officer K. Veera Raghava Rao cast his vote by standing in the queue.
In Madurai city, some voters residing closer to Meenakshi temple had difficulty in reaching to the polling station due to the Car festival.
Glimpses from voting booths across the State:
Voting commences in Perambalur
Polling commenced in Perambalur constituency amid heavy security arrangements put in place at polling stations at other places.
The process started at the scheduled time of 7 am in the polling stations where central para military personnel have been deployed.
Technical glitch in EVMs has been reported in Kamanaickenpalayam and Kaduvetti in Tiruchi district. Engineers are sorting out the problem which has delayed polling.
The constituency accounts for over 13 lakh voters in the six assembly segments of Lalgudi Thuraiyur (reserved) Manachanallur Musiri and Perambalur (reserved).
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Puducherry Chief Minister V.Narayanasmy and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram were among early voters.
While Mr. Palaniswami voted in Salem, Mr. Chidambaram voted in Sivaganga.
South Chennai | 7:45 am
Delay in polling in being reported from a few booth in South Chennai constituency.
At booth number 84 and 85 in Royapettah High Road, voters were seen arguing with officials. They were seeking separate lines for senior citizens.
In Palavakkam, polling was delayed due to repair in voting machine.
There was a 20 minute delay to begin voting at St Francis Xavier School polling centre in Little Mount.
Polling was delayed by 40 minutes in polling booths in Taramani as the polling staff were not able to operate VVPAT and booth agents came late.
South Chennai | 7:30 am
Actor Ajith and his wife Shalini were among the early voters to exercise their franchise. They voted at a polling booth in Thiruvanmiyur, near Chennai.
Chennai | 7:20 am
Actor Rajinikanth casts vote at Stella Maris College in Chennai.
The actor, who announced last year that he would start a political party and contest elections, chose to keep low during the Parliamentary Elections. He was among the first voters on Thursday.
He didn’t speak to the media.
In Tamil Nadu, polling is being held in 38 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats. Polling in Vellore Lok Sabha seat was cancelled Tuesday by the Election Commission following recovery of huge amount of cash allegedly from an associate of a DMK leader recently.
Polling will begin at 7 a.m. across the State and end at 6 p.m. Those in queue at 6 p.m. will be given tokens by the presiding officer to complete the voting process.
In Madurai Parliamentary constituency alone, polling has been extended till 8 p.m. on account of the Chithirai festival, and those in queue at 8 p.m. will be given tokens to cast their votes.