Puducherry: The number of candidates contesting the May 16 Puducherry Assembly polls has risen from 187 in 2011 to 344 this time.
Out of 187 candidates last time, six were Independents. This time 344, including 97 Independents, are in the fray for the polls to the 30-member assembly.
Chief Minister and founder of ruling AINRC N Rangasamy is contesting from Indira Nagar constituency.
Other main candidates are Speaker V Sabapathy (Ariankuppam), former chief minister and Leader of the Opposition V Vaithilingam (Kamaraj Nagar), PCC leader A Namassivayam (Villianoor), AIADMK nominee P Kannan (Raj Bhavan) and former ministers belonging to Congress E Valsaraj (Mahe) and Malladi Krishna Rao (Yanam).
Candidates have intensified canvassing and embarked on door-to-door campaigning.
AIADMK is drawing the attention of voters by playing hit songs from old movies starring AIADMK founder and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister late M G Ramachandran.
A number of voters awareness programmes were conducted by election authorities here in the last two months. Various voluntary organisations have also joined hands with the official machinery to create awareness about ethical voting.
'My vote is not for sale' is the theme projected through various modes and there is a sustained appeal to voters to ensure that a cent per cent polling is achieved.
The Union Territory recorded 86 percentage polling in 2011.
Ruling AINRC and and rival parties PMK, AIADMK and BJP are all going alone. Congress and DMK, however, have firmed up an alliance with the former contesting 21 constituencies and DMK nine.
People's Welfare Front, comprising MDMK, the Left parties and VCK, has tied up with the Vijayakant-led DMDK.
For the first time, votes polled in Puducherry, having 23 out of the 30 segments, would be counted this time in two centres -- Bharathidasan government college for women and government women's polytechnic college.
Votes polled in the outlying regions of Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam would be counted in respective regions on May 19.