A little over half of Tamil Nadu’s over 5.84 crore voters cast their votes in 38 Lok Sabha seats on Thursday till 3 PM, even as the DMK charged the ruling AIADMK with planning to do “booth-capturing” later in the day. Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Satyabrata Sahoo said no reports of booth capturing or any other untoward incident regarding law and order has been received so far.
He said the voter turnout in 38 Lok Sabha segments stood at 52.02 per cent at 3 PM, while maintaining that polling was peaceful.
Karur recorded the highest voter turnout at 56.85 per cent while Chennai Central clocked the lowest at 45.65 per cent, according to the EC data.
At 3 PM, the turnout was 55.97 per cent in the 18 Assembly segments where by-polls are being held along with the Lok Sabha elections.
Sahoo said that while the polling would come to a close by 6 PM, those already in the queue would be allowed to cast their votes even after the deadline as officials would provide tokens for this purpose.
Meanwhile, the DMK filed a complaint with the CEO and the DGP (Elections), Ashutosh Shukla, alleging that the ruling AIADMK planned to do “booth-capturing” after 3 PM.
They demanded that the officials put in all measures to ensure transparent elections.
Responding to this, Sahoo said polling has been peaceful so far.
“We have not received any report of booth capturing, neither are there any law and order issues,” he said.
Earlier, Chief Minister K Palaniswami and DMK chief M K Stalin waited in queues at Edappadi in Salem district and Chennai, respectively and cast their votes.
After casting his vote, Stalin alleged that there has been distribution of cash and accused the Election Commission of being an “ally” of central and state governments.
Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran and Kanimozhi and Karti Chidambaram of Congress are among key contenders.
Radhakrishnan told reporters in Kanyakumari: “This is a massive democratic festival which will decide the fate of India. I have exercised my franchise…A silent revolution is happening.”
AIADMK leader and state minister D Jayakumar said 13 per cent voting in the morning “is a joyous thing.”
“This shows there is a wave for Amma and MGR,” he said, exuding confidence that the AIADMK-BJP combine would emerge victorious.
Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam leader T T V Dhinakaran alleged “malfunctioning of EVMs is an achievement of the Modi government”.
CPI national secretary D Raja expressed confidence that people were voting for the DMK-led alliance in Tamil Nadu as they wanted to see the end of the BJP government at the Centre.
Dayanidhi Maran voted here along with his family members.
Besides 38 of the total 39 Lok Sabha seats in the state, excluding Vellore, by-polls to 18 assembly segments are also underway.
Polling stations were teeming with enthusiastic voters even before 7 AM when polling began and the Chief Minister was among the early electors in his native Salem district.
While senior Congress leader P Chidambaram voted at Kandanur in Sivaganga district, Dhinakaran exercised his franchise along with his family here.
Top actor Rajinikanth and popular stars Vijay and Ajith Kumar voted in Chennai.
BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit chief Tamilisai Soundararjan and actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam president Kamal Haasan also cast their votes here.
DMDK chief Vijayakanth, his wife and party leader Premalatha and Pattali Makkal Katchi chief S Ramadoss voted in Chennai and Tindivanam respectively.
The state’s electorate is 5.84-crore (after deducting the 14.26 lakh voters in Vellore) strong.
Adequate security arrangements, with the deployment of over 160 companies of central police forces and one lakh state police personnel, have been made.
In the run-up to the polls, election authorities had seized over Rs 129-crore cash, gold and other precious metals with a total value of over Rs 284 crore from all over the state.
Tamil Nadu has a total of 67,720 polling stations and 7,780 booths have been categorised as critical and vulnerable where more Central Armed Police Forces personnel and micro-observers were deployed.
Measures like webcasting and videographing of proceedings are also in place.
As many as 1,50,302 ballot units, 89,160 control units and 94,653 VVPAT which allows the electors to cross-check the votes they have cast for seven seconds are available.
Every constituency has one all-woman polling station.
While polling is being held between 7 AM and 6 PM in 37 constituencies, it has been extended by two hours until 8 PM in Madurai Lok Sabha segment, due to the Chithirai festival, which marks the grand entry of Lord Kallazhagar into the Vaigai river.