In spite of the scorching heat, around 63% (till 6 pm, as per the Election Commission data) of the Tamil electorate availed their right to vote on Thursday in the Lok Sabha elections.
In the last election, the voter turnout in the state was as high as 73.67%.
The polling went on till 8 pm in Madurai constituency, as the Election Commission extended the polling time by two hours due to the Chithirai celebration.
Chennai central constituency reported the lowest voter turnout with 52.54%.
In the second phase of the 2019 general elections, 38 parliamentary constituencies from Tamil Nadu went to polls. Voting in Vellore constituency was cancelled earlier by the Election Commission due to seizure of high amount of cash from a candidate’s property.
The fight in the state is between Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led Secular Democratic Front comprising Congress, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and left parties and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led alliance including Bharatiya Janata Party, Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) among others.
TTV Dinakaran-led Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), actor-turned-politician Kamal Hassan’s Makkal Neethi Mayyam (MNM) and director Seeman’s Naam Tamilar Katchi are also in the fray as independent forces. Among these, AMMK is expected to put a dent in AIADMK’s traditional vote bank, while the latter two may succeed in consolidating a fraction of youth vote.
Minor conflicts in the state
The polling was comparatively peaceful and incident-free, though in some areas, EVMs faced technical difficulties. Clashes in five places of Arani LS constituency were reported. Several were reportedly injured including people in the polling booths.
AIADMK lodged a complaint against DMK president MK Stalin and Chennai central candidate Dayanidhi Maran for violating the Model Code of Conduct, reported IANS. They had earlier commented about a change of government after casting their votes. DMK, in return, accused AIADMK of planning booth capturing, and complained to the EC to take action.
Meanwhile, about 500 residents from Nagaraja Kandigai in Gummidipoondi boycotted the elections. They alleged that they are suffering from pollution caused by an iron factory in the area that was closed a few years ago. They say the factory reopened recently which, they claimed, is causing pollution. Police were deployed in the area fearing mobilisation.
In Kanyakumari, around 60% voters reportedly came forward, alleging that their name missing from voters list. These are the people from around 10 fishing villages. They conducted a dharna for a solution, while the Election Commission officials tried to convince them. Kanyakumari collector and RO submitted a report to the election commissioner regarding the issue.
In another instance, people staged a rasta roko [barricaded] art Koyambedu Bus terminus in Chennai, citing lack of bus facilities. Police used mild lathi charge to disperse the crowd.