Chennai, April 18 (IANS) Polling concluded in 38 of 39 Lok Sabha and 18 Assembly constituencies, where by-elections were held on Thursday, in Tamil Nadu.
About 69.55 per cent of about 5.8 crore voters cast their vote pressing the button in the electronic voting machine (EVM) at the last count.
The final poll percentage is expected to go up by about five per cent.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, 73 per cent polling was registered.
A total of 822 candidates are in the fray to enter the Lok Sabha.
Polling which started at 7 a.m was peaceful except for some stray incidents that happened towards the evening in some parts of the state.
According to police, stray incidents of violence were reported at a village in Ariyalur. In Arakkonam, para-military troopers fired in the air to disperse a mob and in Kanniyakumari, five Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) men were injured in a clash after the polls.
In some places voting began a bit late owing to faulty EVMs/ Control Units/ Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines.
Speaking to reporters here, Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo said as many as 375 EVMs, 228 Control Units and 766 VVPAT machines were replaced across the state.
Though there are 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu, on Tuesday, the Election Commission (EC) rescinded polling for Vellore Lok Sabha constituency after the Income Tax (IT) Department seized unaccounted cash from the cement warehouse of a DMK functionary.
The EC said the cash was kept for distribution to voters and the situation was not conducive for holding free and fair elections in Vellore.
Sahoo said the three Lok Sabha seats in Chennai — Chennai South (58.14 per cent), Chennai North (61.46 per cent) and Chennai Central (57.05 per cent) — registered lower voter turnout.
In fact, the three Chennai seats brought down the overall polling average.
Along with the polls for Lok Sabha in Tamil Nadu, a sort of mini-Assembly elections were held with the conduct of by-elections to 18 out of 22 vacant Assembly seats.
A total of 269 candidates were in the fray for the by-elections.
Sahoo said 71.62 per cent polling was registered in the by-polls.
The by-elections for the remaining four Assembly seats will be held on May 19.
The results of both Parliamentary and by-elections for 22 Assembly seats will be declared on May 23, deciding the fate of the BJP-led Central government and also that of the Tamil Nadu government.
In the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly, the ruling AIADMK has 114 members (including the Speaker), DMK 88, Congress 8, and the IUML and Independents one each.
To attain a simple majority, the AIADMK has to win just four seats in the by-elections. Factoring in the switching of camps by some of the lawmakers, the AIADMK has to win seven or eight seats in order to be safe.
On the other hand, the DMK needs to win all the 22 seats to take the tally, along with its allies — the Congress and the IUML — to 119, just one number more than simple majority.
DMK President M.K. Stalin in his campaign said there will be a change of government in Tamil Nadu once there is a change in the Central government.
Analysts are of the view that even if T.T.V. Dhinakaran’s AMMK wins a couple of seats, the DMK’s dream of coming to power by toppling the AIADMK government may not come true.
The two major fronts in the fray are AIADMK-led front comprising the PMK, BJP, DMDK, TMC, PT, PNK and others, and the DMK-led front consisting of the Congress, MDMK, IUML, CPI, CPI-M, VCK, KMDK and the IJK.
With the cancellation of election for Vellore, both AIADMK and DMK are contesting in 19 seats in Tamil Nadu leaving the remaining to the alliance partners.
The AMMK and the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), floated by Kamal Haasan, are fighting it alone.
While the AMMK candidates are contesting under the common symbol “gift box”, they are classified as Independent candidates as per the Supreme Court order.
For the first time in several decades, both AIADMK and DMK will be fighting the polls without their iconic leaders J. Jayalalithaa and M.Karunanidhi, who are no more.
Arithmetically, the AIADMK-led front has an advantage. But the electoral landscape has changed after Jayalalithaa passed away. The AIADMK had split into two and the BJP is facing a negative mood in the state.