The dawn of Tuesday will see about 6.26 crore one day ‘sultans’ in Tamil Nadu exercising their democratic rights to vote their ruler from Fort St. George here for the next five years.
Apart from the Assembly elections, there will also be the bypoll for the Kanniyakumari Lok Sabha seat in the state.
The high voltage electioneering for the 234 Assembly seats and the sole Lok Sabha seat came to an end in the state on Sunday evening.
There will be a six cornered contest for occupying Fort St.George though the main contest will be between the ruling AIADMK-led alliance and the DMK-led front.
The others in the fray are actor-turned-politicians Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) alliance, Vijayakant promoted DMDK, the alliance led by Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) floated by T.T.V.Dhinakaran and movie director Seeman’s Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK).
This election is a waveless poll with AIADMK-led by Chief Minister K.Palaniswami seeking a third term for the party while the DMK-led by its President M.K.Stalin will be seeking to break the decade long power drought.
The ruling AIADMK is fighting the poll in 179 seats and six other small parties each contesting in one seat under the former’s Two Leaves symbol.
The others in the AIADMK alliance are the BJP (contesting in 20 seats) and PMK (23), TMC (6).
On the other hand, the DMK will be fighting in 173 seats while alliance parties Congress (25), CPI, CPI-M, MDMK and VCK in six seats each, IUML, KMDK (3 each), MMK (2), All India Forward Bloc, Makkal Viduthalai Katchi, Athi Thamizhar Peravai and Tamizhaga Vazhuvurimai Katchi each contesting in one seat.
A total of 187 candidates — DMK’s own and that of alliance parties — will be contesting under the former’s Rising Sun symbol.
The MNM is allied with actor Sarathkumar’s AISMK and IJK while Dhinakaran’s AMMK has allied with the DMDK, AIMIM and others.
The Seeman-led NTK is going it alone contesting in all the 234 constituencies.
The other parties in the fray on their own are the Bahujan Samaj Party (contesting in 160 seats), Puthiya Tamizhagam (60 seats) and Republican Party of India (16 seats).
The electioneering was virulent and many a times the DMK attacked Palaniswami personally.
Stalin had termed Palaniswami as more venomous than a poisonous snake.
Former Union Minister and DMK Deputy General Secretary A. Raja made a derogatory remark about Palaniswami’s late mother by alleging the Chief Minister as an ‘illegitimate child’. Raja had also said Palaniswami is worth less than Stalin’s chappal.
The Election Commission later imposed a 48-hour campaigning ban on Raja.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP National President J.P. Nadda and others took advantage of Raja’s comment and termed the DMK as anti-women.
The AIADMK and DMK announced several freebies in their manifestos.
While DMK was silent on liquor prohibition — the party’s major plank in 2016 polls- the AIADMK had said the liquor shops would be closed in a phased manner.
Notable candidates in the polls and the constituencies are: Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam (Bodinayakkanur), Stalin (Kolathur), his son Udhayanidhi Stalin (Chepauk-Tiruvallikeni), DMDK Treasurer and Vijayakant’s wife Premalatha (Vridhachalam) MNM founder Kamal Haasan (Coimbatore South), TN BJP President L. Murugan (Dharapuram), actor Khushbu Sundar (Thousand Lights), TN BJP Vice President K.Annamalai, PMK’s G.K.Mani (Pennagaram) and Seeman (Tiruvottriyur).
In the bypoll for the Kanniyakumari Lok Sabha seat, the fight is between former Union Minister and BJP’s Pon Radhakrishnan and Congress party’s Vijay Vasanth.
In the neighbouring Puducherry, Union Territory having just over 10 lakh voters the fight for the 30-member Assembly is majorly between the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) consisting of Congress, DMK, CPI, VCK and an Independent and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) comprising of All India N.R. Congress, BJP and AIADMK.