Polling to elect representatives to the 140-member Kerala assembly, 232-member Tamil Nadu assembly and the 30-member Puducherry territorial assembly began at 7 am on Monday.
Tamil Nadu witnessed brisk polling with over 25.2 per cent voters exercising their franchise by 11 am. According to a senior electoral official, 18.3 per cent voters had cast their votes. Election Commission had deferred polling in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur following allegations of bribing of voters.
Following the Election Commission's decision, polling is being held in 232 of the 234 assembly constituencies. Polling in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur will be held on May 23 and counting of votes on May 25. For the rest of the 232 segments, counting will be as per schedule on May 19.
Polling began on a dull note in the southern districts with incessant rains preventing the voters from coming out, officials said. There was not much queue in most of the polling booth, officials said but expressed hope that the polling would pick up once the rains stopped. There were reports of polling machines going out of order in Tirunelveli and Theni districts but they were replaced and the polling began.
In Madurai a voter, who was more than 100 years old voted with the help of his grand sons. A minor skirmish was reported between the DMK and ADMK cadres in Viralimalai constituency where the AIADMK leader Vijayabaskar was pitted against Palaniappan. The polling booths had been given three tier security with the para military forces monitoring the booths.
A report from Rameswaram said that fishermen in hamlet stood on long queue despite rains to vote. Officials had provided pandal in most of the booths to enable the voters stand queue during the rains.
Tamil Nadu will decide the fate of over 3700 candidates, including chief minister J Jayalalithaa and DMK chief M Karunanidhi. Electronic Voting Machines across 65,000-odd polling booths were opened for around 5.50 crore voters to cast their votes. Over one lakh security personnel have been deployed to ensure peaceful elections.
Though Tamil Nadu has 234 assembly seats across 32 districts, polling is being held only for 232 as the Election Commission has postponed it for May 23 in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur segments following complaints of voters being bribed.
Besides Jayalalithaa (RK Nagar) and Karunanidhi (Thiruvarur), a host of leaders including DMDK founder Vijayakanth and PMK's Anbumani Ramadoss, both chief ministerial candidates, M K Stalin (DMK), H Raja and Tamilisai Soundararajan of the BJP are in fray. A total of 1,11,958 police personnel, including 21,780 paramilitary personnel, would be involved in the election duty.