Very high turnout in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry

An average of 78 per cent voters exercised their franchise in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

Last Updated: Apr 13, 2011, 23:53 PM IST

Chennai/Thiruvananthapuram: An average of nearly 78 per cent voters exercised their franchise to elect
new assemblies in the key southern states of Tamil Nadu and
Kerala and the Union territory of Puducherry on Wednesday.

While Tamil Nadu and Kerala registered a turnout of
75.21 per cent and 74.4 per cent respectively, in Puducherry
it was the highest at 85.21 per cent, Deputy Election
Commissioner J P Prakash told reporters in Delhi.
Prakash said polling was by and large peaceful and the
percentage was likely to go up.

However, in Salem in Tamil Nadu, a 58-year-old AIADMK
sympathiser died in a stampede after police baton charge to
disperse those gathered around a polling booth. Later, AIADMK
sympathisers blocked the Sivathapuram main road. They also
damaged police vehicles by pelting stones.

Election officials kept a strong vigil amid
allegations about money distribution to voters in a last ditch
effort to lure voters, especially in Tamil Nadu.

Prakash said Rs 54.17 crore in cash was recovered
during the drive against use of money power during
electioneering in Tamil Nadu.

Live web casting was carried out in all the three
elections. For the first time, 8,835 overseas Indians voted in
Kerala which had seen 74.4 per cent polling in the 2006 polls.
The electoral fortunes of three top guns of the south
-- Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi (86), his Kerala
counterpart V S Achuthanandan (87) and AIADMK chief
Jayalalithaa (63) among others will be known on May 13.

Moving away from his constituency in the city,
Karunanidhi sought election from rural Tiruvarur segment in
his home district for the first time while his arch-rival
Jayalalithaa opted for temple town of Srirangam where her
family has roots.

Other political heavyweights among the 2,773
candidates are Karunanidhi`s son and Deputy Chief Minister M K
Stalin (Kolathur on Chennai outskirts) and actor-politician
Vijayakant of DMDK (Rishivandyam).

In Kerala, Kannur district, known for clashes between
rival party cadres, topped in voter turn out recording 80.4
per cent while the lowest was reported from Pathanamthitta
(68.2) closely followed by capital Thiruvananthapuram (68.5).

In Palakkad district, where Achuthanandan is seeking
re-election for the third time in Malampuzha segment, the turn
out was 75.3 per cent. The battle to gain power in the highly
polarised state, where the pendulum swings between CPI-M led
LDF and UDF headed by Congress every five years, was keenly
fought between the two fronts.

In all, 971 candidates, including Independents, are in
the fray. UDF`s Chief Ministerial probable Oommen Chandy is
seeking to enter the assembly for the tenth time in a row from
Puthuppally in Kottayam.
BJP is pinning its hopes on senior leader O Rajagopal,
contesting in Nemom to open its account in the assembly.

In Puducherry, the polling percentage was around 83.62
as against 84 per cent recorded in the 2006 assembly polls.

The Congress-led combine, including DMK and PMK, is facing a
tough challenge in the Union territory from a front led by
former chief minister N Rangasamy`s All India NR Congress that
has AIADMK in its fold.

PTI