Chennai: In the first general election conducted in Tamil Nadu after the death of two of its tall Dravidian leaders, M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa, the voter turnout was put at 69.55% till 7pm.
At the time of filing this report, the final voting figures in Madurai Parliamentary constituency — where polling was extended by two hours due to the Chithirai festival — were unavailable. The final tally in the 38 Parliamentary seats for the state could be higher, Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo indicated.
Polling was largely peaceful with stray incidents of violence being reported in a few places including Ariyalur and Vellore districts. There were however widespread complaints of people, who did not posses booth slips, being turned away from voting. Besides, a large number of people in coastal hamlets in Kanyakumari, where Union Minister of State Pon Radhakrishnan is contesting, protested saying their names were deliberately left out of the electoral rolls.
Incidentally, people also voted in 18 Assembly constituencies – including Tiruvarur which was vacated by Karunanidhi and Hosur where the MLA was disqualified on account of conviction in a criminal case – where by-polls were held. The by-election in the remaining 16 constituencies were caused by the disqualification of AIADMK legislators who had joined ranks with TTV Dhinakaran, nephew of Jayalalithaa”s jailed aide Sasikala.
On May 19, by-election to four more Assembly constituencies would be held and the results of all 22 seats would be declared along with that of the Parliamentary elections nationwide on May 23. The outcome of these by-elections will determine the fate of the Edappadi K Palaniswami Government, which has just 114 MLAs in the House with a sanctioned strength of 234.
Significantly, the polling percentage in the 18 Assembly constituencies was 71.62 with five seats recording a higher turnout between 81% and 87%. In nine constituencies the turnout was between 71% and 80%, indicating that more people voted in these Assembly segments. Casting his vote in his native Salem, AIADMK leader and CM Edappadi K Palaniswami did not speak to waiting journalists except for sporting his trademark broad smile.