68 percent voting in Tamil Nadu amid violence, 79 in Puducherry


Chennai/Puducherry : Around 68 percent voters exercised their franchise in 39 constituencies of Tamil Nadu Wednesday amid sporadic violence in which one person was killed, while in neighbouring union territory of Puducherry the turnout was 79 percent.

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Poll officials of the two regions said the exact final tally will be known only after data from all the polling centres are collected.

“The polling percentage in Tamil Nadu is around 68 percent. There is a distinct increase in voting percentage in the state as compared to 61 percent logged in the 2004 elections,” the state’s chief electoral officer Naresh Gupta told reporters here.

He said any decision on re-polling will be taken by the Election Commission based on the complaints and also on the concerned polling official’s report.

Asked about the malfunctioning of the electronic voting machines (EVM) at various places, he said: “Many of the machines were brought from other places and are old. One hundred machines that malfunctioned were rectified and 93 were replaced.

“Two EVMs in Chennai showed up the ‘rising sun’ symbol of DMK when a voter pressed the button against ‘two leaves’ – the AIADMK symbol. The machines were replaced,” he added.

The high-profile Madurai constituency – where M.K. Azhagiri, son of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, is contesting – recorded 75 percent voting.

One man was killed and 13 injured in election related clashes in three places in Tamil Nadu, including the state capital. Police said DMK member S. Thangavel died after being stabbed during a clash between supporters of the state’s ruling party and AIADMK in Dindigul town, about 350 km Chennai.

There were complaints of omission of a large number of voters across the state during the polls that would decide the electoral fortunes of 823 candidates in Tamil Nadu of which 41 are women.

Prominent candidates include Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and E.V.K.S. Elangovan of the Congress; Dayanidhi Maran, Azhagiri and T.R. Baalu of the DMK and MDMK’s Vaiko.

There were 52,175 polling stations in the state.

Chief Minister Karunanidhi alongwith his wife cast his vote and expressed confidence in the DMK-led three party alliance – Congress and VCK being other two – sweeping all the 40 seats including the Puducherry constituency.

Chidambaram also expressed confidence of a Congress victory.

“The poll results in Tamil Nadu will undoubtedly be the crowning glory of the Congress-DMK combine’s continuing endeavours. While I am sure of my victory, our front will certainly do very well,” Chidambaram told reporters in Sivaganga after casting his vote.

The minister hopes for a sixth consecutive win from the Sivaganga constituency, about 350 km south of Chennai.

Former chief minister and AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalithaa and movie star Rajinikant cast their vote in Stella Maris College near their Poes Garden residences.

Speaking to reporters after voting Jayalalithaa said she was keeping her post-poll options open.

“There are feelers from many places. I am not responding to them now. Everything depends on the election results. If the results are as expected then I will go to Delhi,” she said.

In Puducherry, P.T. Rudra Goud, joint chief electoral officer, told IANS: “We expect the final poll tally will be anything between 75-80 percent.”

He said the polling was smooth.

In the 2004 general elections Puducherry recorded 75.99 percent polling.

The constituency comprises of Puducherry, Mahe, Yanam and Karaikal.