Chennai: An estimated 6.29 crore electorate are expected to cast their ballots, as the stage is all set for one of the more fiercely contested elections to elect the 16th Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly tomorrow, apart from the bypolls to the Kanniyakumari Lok Sabha seat.
As the covid pandemic protocols are in force, polling will be held for 234-Assembly seats in more than 88,000 polling booths across the state, which was 34.73 per cent higher in view of the pandemic.
The process of transporting more than 1.55 lakh Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) along with VVEPAT slips to the polling stations started this morning, amid tight security and deployment of para military forces and state police personnel.
Election Commission sources said that enhanced security will be provided in sensitive booths where the entire polling process will be videographed and webcast live.
The polling will start at 0700 hrs in the morning and will end at 1900 hrs in the evening, an increase by an hour in view of the pandemic.
With a view to ensure maximum turnout, the ECI also announced that those infected by the covid virus, can come and vote in the last hour by wearing the necessary PPE kits.
The ECI has also made arrangements for live webcast of the polling process in sensitive booths, all those wearing face masks alone will be allowed to enter the polling booth after thermal scanning and following the SOPs.
The hustle and bustle of the high voltage campaign ended at 1900 hrs yesterday when the leading candidates made a last ditch effort in their respective constituencies to woo the voters by resorting to door-to-door campaign.
The elections will witness a five-cornered contest with the fronts headed by the traditional dravidian rivals, the ruling AIADMK and the Opposition DMK, vying with each other to win the confidence of the voters, apart from the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) of actor-politician Kamal Haasan, ousted AIADMK leader and late J Jayalalithaa’s close aide V K Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran and actor-director Seeman’s Naam Tamizhar Katchi in the fray.
Though it appeared a five-cornered contest on paper, it will once again be a two-horse race, with the main fight between the AIADMK and the DMK.
This election will be an acid test for the leadership of the AIADMK and the DMK, who is testing the waters in the absence of two tall leaders and late Chief Ministers J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi respectively, notwithstanding the DMK winning the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
While AIADMK is eyeing for a hat-trick of wins, having won in 2011 and 2016 Assembly polls, the DMK, which on its own is claiming to be banking on the anti-incumbency factor, is desperate to come back to power after being in the Opposition for ten years, in what is billed as a no-holds barred contest.
While a total of 3,998 candidates are in the fray for the 234-Assembly seats to elect the 16th Assembly, for the
Kanniyakumari bypoll, which was necessitated following the death of Congress MP H Vasanthakumar, a total of 12 candidates are in the fray.
The Lok Sabha bypoll will witness a direct fight between former Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan of BJP and
Vasanthakumar’s son Vijay Vasanth of Congress.
The BJP is facing the polls as part of AIADMK alliance and the Congress as an ally of the Opposition DMK.