Chennai: Top political leaders of Tamil Nadu, including Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Deputy CM O Panneerselvam, Opposition DMK President M K Stalin, leaders of the alliance partners of the ruling AIADMK and DMK today exercised their democratic right as the single phase polling to elect the 234-member 16th Assembly began today.
Mr Palaniswami, who cast his vote at a polling booth in his native Siluvampalayam village near Edappadi town in
Salem district, said, “I appeal to all to cast their vote in the legislative assembly elections”.
Mr Panneerselvam, who cast his vote in his native Theni district, exuded confidence of AIADMK winning a hat-trick of elections and retain power.
DMK-led Front’s Chief Minister candidate and Stalin–seeking re-election from Kolathur constituency–his wife Durga Stalin along with his son youth wind leader Udhayanidhi Stalin, making his electoral debut from Chepauk-Triplicane seat, stood in the queue at SIET college along with the public to cast their votes.
Earlier, before casting their vote, they paid floral tributes to late Party Chief M Karunanidhi and C N Annadurai at their memorials on the Marina beach front.
Talking to reporters after casting his vote, Mr Stalin said people are voting with enthusiasm and the polling process is going on peacefully.
He said a higher voter turnout implies that the verdict is anti-incumbency, against the ruling AIADMK. Mr Stalin alleged that the AIADMK had sought to rescind the polls (in some constituencies) due to fear of losing elections.
He also said it is for the Election Commission to take action against money distribution. DMK’s ally and Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram after casting his vote at a polling booth in Sivaganga district said
“our secular progressive alliance is all set for a landslide victory as people of Tamil Nadu wanted a change. ”
AIADMK’s ally and PMK Founder Dr S Ramadoss exercised his franchise at a polling booth at Sri Maragadhambigai High School in Tindivanam and said that people were happy with the performance of the AIADMK government and said good governance should continue in the State.
To a question on opinion polls predicting a landslide victory for the DMK-led front in the elections, he said that people attached little value to opinion polls.
“They are not opinion polls, but only a compulsory imposition of opinions,” he said. AIADMK’s another key ally, BJP State President L Murugan L Murugan, contesting from Dharapuram, casted his vote at a polling booth in Anna Nagar in the city.
BJP candidate from Thousand Lights constituency and actress Khushbu Sundar voted at a polling booth in Mandaveli and said ‘We have found people from DMK distributing money to voters. We have complained to the Election Commission.” ‘DMK wanted to win by hook or by crook,” she said.
AIADMK’s ally and Tamil Maanila Congress leader and former Union Minister G K Vasan cast his vote in the
city and expressed the hope that the AIADMK-led front will win the polls.
Speaking to reporters, he requested the EC to make suitable arrangements to enable senior citizens, differently-abled people and patients vote.
Mr Vasan also expressed confidence that the AIADMK led alliance will win the elections. Actor-politician and Makkal Needhi Maiam Founder Kamal Haasan, who cast his vote along with his daughters and actors Shruti and Akshara Haasan, stressed on the need to educate people about cash distribution during the polls and its disastrous effects on their lives and democracy.
He also appealed to the voters to vote for development and not for money. AMMK Founder and RK Nagar MLA TTV Dhinakaran, who is also the nephew of ousted AIADMK leader V K Sasikala, voted at a booth in Adyar in the city and said people will usher in a major change in this elections in the state.
‘Our poll prospects are bright and people’s support is there for his party’, he said, adding, the people will
not allow betrayers and evil forces to win the polls. Dhinakaran, who won from RK Nagar seat in the city, which
was earlier represented by late leader J Jayalalithaa, is contesting from the southern Kovilpatti in this polls.
DMDK chief Captain Vijaykanth’s wife Premalatha Vikayakanth, contesting from Vridhachalam, which was earlier held by her husband, voted at a private school in Saligramam in the city.
The DMDK is an ally of the AMMK. DMK’s another ally and MDMK leader Vaiko voted in his native
Kalingapatti village in Tirunelveli district.
PMK youth wing leader and former Union Minister Anbumani Ramadoss cast his vote at a polling booth in Tindivanam in Villupuram district.
Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman, who is going it alone and has allotted 50 per cent of the totla 234 seats to women, cast his vote at a polling booth at Valasaravakkam in the city.
Later, talking to reporters, he alleged that the Election Commission has not taken the complaints about money
distribution to voters seriously.
He said he he felt voting through EVMs was a pain and that the plea to shift to paper ballot system of voting (like in developed countries) has been rejected both by the Election Commission and the courts.