Voters queue up to cast their votes at a polling station, during the third and final phase of Assam Assembly election in Guwahati on Tuesday. (PTI)
NEW DELHI :
WB: 77.68 per cent till 5:30 pm
Assam: 82.33 per cent till 7 pm
TN: 71.79 percent till 5.00 pm n Kerala: 74 per cent till 7.00 pm
Puducherry: 77.90 per cent till 5 pm
PEACEFUL voting was reported in Assembly elections in three States and in Union Territory of Pudducherry that went to polling on Friday, except for West Bengal where clashes erupted between rival political groups. Though stray incidents of clashes between workers of rival parties were also reported in other States, a high voter turnout was recorded in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. In Kerala, where the Left is hoping to beat anti-incumbency to retain power, a feat unseen in four decades, while the BJP is making efforts to build inroads, nearly 74 percent polling was recorded till 7 pm. There was 71.79 percent voting in Tamil Nadu for 234 Assembly constituencies and 77.90 percent in Puducherry till 5 PM.
The three-phase Assembly election culminated in Assam with nearly 82.33 per cent polling in the final round in the State where the ruling BJP is battling the Congress-led alliance to retain power, while the trend of high turnout and violence during polling continued in West Bengal as the ruling Trinamool Congress, the BJP and the Left-Congress alliance put up an intense fight in the high-stakes contest. The massive polling exercise following COVID-19 health protocol and involving lakhs of personnel began at 7 AM and the last hour from 6 PM to 7 PM was set aside for COVID-19 patients and those under isolation. DMK Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi, who is being treated for COVID-19, voted at a polling station in Chennai while wearing a Personal Protective Equipment kit. In Tamil Nadu, both the Dravidian parties AIADMK and DMK went into the election without their stalwarts, J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam will cement their position as successors of Jayalalithaa if the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK) retains power though it faces an uphill task especially after the rout in the 2019 Lok Sabha election when the DMK-led alliance won 38 out of 39 seats. AIADMK ally BJP, which had not won any seat in the last polls, is contesting in 20 constituencies. Another AIADMK ally PMK is contesting from 23 constituencies. The Congress, an ally of the DMK, is in the fray in 25 Assembly segments. In Kerala, where the Left Democratic Front (LDF) is seeking to break the State’s four-decade-old trend of swinging between the communists and the Congress-led United Democratic Front, the electors decided the fate of 957 candidates in 140 Assembly constituencies across the State. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Health Minister K K Shailaja, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, Power Minister M M Mani and Higher Education Minister K K Jaleel are among the prominent personalities trying their electoral luck from the ruling side. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, senior leaders K Muraleedharan, P T Thomas and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan are among those contesting from the UDF fold.
The BJP, which has failed to make a dent in the State, has fielded former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan, ‘Metroman’ E Sreedharan, who joined the party recently, State President K Surendran , senior leader Shobha Surendran and Rajya Sabha members Suresh Gopi and K J Alphons. Two voters, including a woman, standing in the queue in Aranmula in Pathnamthitta and Chavittuavary in Kottayam collapsed and died. Puducherry witnessed a contest between the AINRC-led NDA and the Congress-led Secular Democratic alliance. While AINRC fielded candidates in 16 of the total 30 constituencies the BJP is contesting nine seats while the AIADMK is contesting five seats. Yanam, where the AINRC leader N Rangasamy is contesting, registered a higher percentage of polling than other regions. The Congress has fielded candidates in 14 out of the 15 seats; The national party is supporting an independent in Yanam. The DMK, its main alliance partner, has fielded candidates in 13 seats and the VCK and CPI are contesting from one constituency each. The Congress-led Government in the Union Territory had collapsed just before the elections.
Puducherry witnessed a voter turnout of 77.90 per cent till 5 pm across 30 constituencies, according to the Election Commission (EC). A total of 10,04,507 electors will decide the fate of 324 candidates across 30 constituencies of Puducherry. The election, in the Union Territory, is a keen contest between the Congress-DMK alliance and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) comprising All India NR Congress, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The counting of votes will take place on May 2.