New Delhi: Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry recorded 47.64, 54.21 and 58.93 per cent voting, respectively, by 1500 hrs in the currently underway single-phase Assembly elections, while 59.33 and 62.56 polling was registered in West Bengal and Assam in the third phase of voting on Tuesday.
Polling began at 0700 hrs in 475 Assembly constituencies, comprising 234 in Tamil Nadu, 140 in Kerala, 30 in Puducherry, 31 in West Bengal and 40 in Assam. As soon as the polling began, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter and urged the people to vote in large numbers.
An estimated 47.64 per cent of the 6.29 crore electorate in Tamil Nadu cast their ballots till 1500 hrs in one of the most fiercely contested Assembly elections.
Candidates in the fray include heavyweights like Chief Minister K Palaniswami, Deputy CM O Panneerselvam, DMK president MK Stalin, AMMK founder TTV Dhinakaran and Makkal Needhi Maiam President Kamal Haasan are in the fray.
The ruling AIADMK filed a complaint to the Chief Electoral Officer demanding disqualification of DMK president M K Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi Stalin for ‘violating the poll code’ by wearing a shirt with the DMK’s poll symbol ‘Rising Sun’ and the party flag in his shirt while casting his ballot during polling.
A senior citizen collapsed and died, while five voters were injured when a concrete sunshade of a polling booth collapsed and fell on them in separate incidents.
As per a report, Thondamuthur DMK candidate Karthikeya Sivasenapathy’s car was damaged near Gandhipark in Coimbatore when he attempted to visit a polling booth.
While Chief Minister K Palaniswami cast his vote at a polling booth in his native village Siluvampalayam near Edappadi town in Salem district, DMK president MK Stalin voted in SIET College in Chennai.
Former Union Minister P Chidambaram also exercised his franchise at Kandanur in the Sivaganga district.
Actor Rajinikanth cast his vote at Stella Marris College in Chennai while Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) general secretary T T V Dhinakaran in Adyar.
Kerala, where polling in 140 Assembly seats is being held in a single phase, recorded 54.21 per cent turnout till 1500 hrs. The state had witnessed a fierce campaign in the run-up to the polls by the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP-led NDA.
Nair Service Society (NSS) general secretary, G Sukumaran Nair said Sabarimala Ayyappa devotees were still bitter about the events that hurt their faith.
The ruling LDF was quick to react and its Minister for the Welfare of Backward and Scheduled Communities AK Balan complained to the Election Commission against the NSS general secretary Mr Nair and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala for their alleged attempts to describe the election as a “fight between the faithful and non-believers”.
In Kattayikonam of Kazhakootam segment, four BJP workers have been attacked by CPI(M) activists in connection with alleged bogus voting.
In protest against the attack, Kazhakootam BJP candidate Sobha Surendran staged a sit-in dharna in front of a polling booth seeking action against the CPI-M workers.
At Nedumkandam in Idukki District bordering Tamil Nadu, a group of people were blocked by Congress and BJP workers alleging that they crossed the border to reach here to cast bogus votes in favour of CPI(M).
A 14-member group including women reached here in a vehicle carrying cotton and liquid to clean the indelible ink. A similar incident was also reported at Kambammettu in Idukki District.
At Anthoor in Kannur district, UDF candidate V P Abdul Rashid was attacked by CPI(M) workers when he questioned the partisan manner of the polling official who was not following steps to identify the voters by removing their masks.
UDF candidate Dharmajan Bolgatty also alleged that he was attacked by DYFI activists when he reached Balussery to cast his vote at a polling station there.
Kerala Chief Minister and CPI (M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan cast his vote at Pinarayi. Among the early voters was ‘Metroman’ E Sreedharan, contesting as the BJP-NDA candidate from the Palakkad constituency.
Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor said high voter turnout will help the Congress-led United Democratic Front emerge victorious in the state.
In West Bengal, polling in 31 Assembly seats are underway in the third phase of elections, with the BJP seeking victory against the TMC, and the Left Front-ISF-Congress alliance hoping to make a mark.
The Election Commission has described as sensitive all the 31 West Bengal assembly constituencies where prohibitory orders have been imposed under Section 144 of the Cr PC in them.
Prominent candidates in the fray are BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta, TMC minister Ashima Patra and CPI(M) leader Kanti Ganguly — in three districts — Howrah, Hooghly and South 24 Parganas.
Barring reports of stray violence, the third phase of polling in West Bengal recorded a high turnout of more than 59.33 per cent till 1500 hours.
A BJP supporter was arrested for allegedly assaulting a TMC candidate at Khanakul seat in the Hooghly when he arrived at a booth after hearing the voters were not allowed to move near the polling booth.
A clash broke out between TMC and BJP workers in the Arambagh constituency of Hooghly district over alleged voter suppression in the region.
BJP leader and in-charge of West Bengal Amit Malvia accused the ruling TMC of attempting to rig the poll and stealing the EVMs. The statement came after chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee also accused blatant misuse of central forces in the polling.
SI Sujit Chakraborty of CID deputed to here for law and order duty suspended for gross negligence and callous activity in performing duty as sector officer under Sector no 17, Rajapur PS.
Assam recorded 62.56 per cent polling till 1500 hrs for the 40 assembly seats in the last phase of polls in the state. Peaceful voting has been underway in all the polling stations with no reports of violence being reported from many districts of the state.
However, there were reports of EVM malfunctioning in few polling stations. The 40 assembly segments spread over the 12 districts in Lower Assam, including three in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).
The fate of many politicians including BJP’ star campaigner Himanta Biswa Sarma who is contesting from Jalukbari will get sealed in the ballot box.
The Union Territory of Puducherry recorded 58.33 per cent polling in 30 seats. Voters would choose between the fronts led by the Congress and the All India NR Congress.
The Union Territory is witnessing a fight between the Congress-led alliance comprising DMK, Left parties and VCK and the NDA consisting of the AINRC, BJP, AIADMK and PMK.
The former chief minister of Puducherry and founder-leader of All India NR Congress N Rangasamy, who is contesting from Thattanchavady and Yanam constituencies, cast his vote at the Government Middle School, Thilaspet in Thattanchavady constituency.
BJP president in Puducherry and party candidate V Saminathan cast his vote at the Primary Government School Petichepet in Lawspet.