78 percent polling in Tamil Nadu
Chennai: Around 78 percent of the 47 million electorate in Tamil Nadu cast their votes Wednesday to elect 234 members to the state assembly with Srirangam, where opposition leader J Jayalalithaa is a candidate, registering the highest turnout of 80.9 percent.
"We are in the process of totaling the numbers. The variation will be in the decimals," Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar told a news agency.
The Thiruvarur seat, from where Chief Minister K Karunanidhi has sought the people`s mandate, registered 75 percent polling and the voting percentage in the Kolathur constituency from where Deputy Chief Minsiter MK Stalin is contesting logged 68 percent.
Rishivandiyam constituency, from where the actor-turned-politician and DMDK founder A Vijayakant is fighting, registered 78 percent turnout.
According to Election Commission officials, the possibilities of countermanding polls is almost non-existent while a repoll will be held in two places.
In the 2006 elections, the polling was 70 percent and in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls the voting was 73 percent.
"The challenge was to hold a free, fair and without fear elections which we have achieved to a large extent. There were no major complaints about missing names in the voters list, bogus voting and others," Praveen Kumar said.
On the question of money play the elections, he agreed that cash was distributed.
"We did try to stop that. To a large extent we put a stop to the open distribution. Cash to the tune of Rs 40 lakh was seized prior to the polls. We have registered around 1,500 complaints of illegal gratification paid to the voters," Praveen Kumar said.
According to him, the distribution was spread out across the constituencies and not confined to certain pockets.
Giving a thumbs up to the Election Commisison for holding the elections in a commendable manner, former chief electoral officer of Tamil Nadu Naresh Gupta told a news agency: "Cash for votes is a major problem in three southern states - Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka."
According to him, the one sure way to stop the cash-for-votes is the postponement of elections in constituencies where the issue is serious.
"Elections could be postponed even twice or thrice and the political parties will understand the cash payment will not work," Gupta said.
According to officials, the unaccounted cash seized will be deposited with the district treasury and the claimants can recover this after accounting for the cash.
"We have just crossed the half-way mark," Praveen Kumar said, citing the May 13 counting of votes.