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Tamil Nadu's closest poll battle reaches climax

Last updated on: April 13, 2011 14:18 IST

Tamil Nadu's closest poll battle reaches climax

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Tamil Nadu is voting to elect its new assembly in one of the closest battles ever witnessed between rival fronts -- the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the All India Anna DMK.

Coverage: Assembly Elections 2011

Four and a half crore voters will decide the fate of 2,773 candidates. The prominent candidates in the fray are Chief Minister M Karunanidhi (Tiruvarur), AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa (Srirangam) and actor-politician Vijaykanth of DMDK (Rishivandhiyam).

Both Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa confidently asserted during a no-holds-barred campaign that their party would form the next government. In what is seen as a do-or-die battle for Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK leader has sought to whip up anti-incumbency sentiments, asking people to end 'family rule' of Karunanidhi.

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Image: A polling officer administering indelible ink to a voter at a polling booth at Mylapore constituency
Photographs: PIB Photos
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Meanwhile, Karunanidhi has hinted at a possible coalition government, a key issue said to have been raised by long-time ally Congress as a post-poll arrangement.

"Our prospects are as bright as the Rising Sun (DMK's symbol) and we will win as many seats as we require to form government...It could either be our own or a coalition," he told media persons after casting his vote in Chennai.

During the tough seat-sharing bargaining between Congress and DMK, the national party is said to have made a strong pitch for a share in power.

The Congress has been out of power in Tamil Nadu since 1967 when it was unseated by the DMK, then under party founder C N Annadurai.


Image: Voters in a queue at a polling booth to cast their vote at Kanyakumari

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Tamil Nadu's closest poll battle reaches climax

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After casting her vote on Wednesday, Jayalalithaa claimed that the Tamil Nadu government had refused to pay the daily allowance to security personnel on poll duty and alleged that the ruling DMK might create violence in the event of their absence.

"I have got information that the Chief Secretary is going to refuse or has already refused to pay the daily allowance of Rs 300 to the security personnel who are in Tamil Nadu for the Assembly polls", Jayalalithaa said.

She said since the government refused to pay their allowance, the over one lakh security personnel have planned to go on a strike on Wednesday.

"Taking this as cover, the DMK men may create violence and can cast bogus votes..., she alleged.


Image: A lady poling officer administering indelible ink to the finger of a voter at a polling booth at Kanyakumari

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Jayalalithaa, who is contesting from Srirangam constituency, appealed to the Election Commission to take cognisance of the issue and act accordingly.

Polls in Tamil Nadu this time, described as 'challenging' by Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi himself, have come under EC's microscopic scrutiny following allegations of free flow of money by the ruling party to lure voters. 

Electioneering was on a quiet mode this time around without the usual poll trappings like writings on walls and posters due to the Election Commission's hawk eyed vigil.

Personal attacks against Karunanidhi and his family members by Jayalalithaa and Vijayakant and against the AIADMK chief by Stalin, as well as complaints by rival party leaders against each other to the EC forced the Commission to send notices to these leaders, seeking explanations.


Image: Voters in queue at a polling booth to cast their vote at Chengalpattu constituency

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The EC had imposed a lot of restrictions and transferred some District Collectors, DGP and other top police officials on complaints that they were acting in a partisan manner.

The Commission's actions had prompted Karunanidhi, who harped on the theme of development during the campaign, to go hammer and tongs against it, charging the EC with seeming to favour the Opposition and even stating that Tamil Nadu was under a 'mini Emergency'.

His bete noire Jayalalithaa on the other hand targeted him over "rampant corruption" and "collapse" of law and order and asked the voters to rid the state of the DMK patriarch's 'family rule'.

Hike in prices of essential commodities and frequent power cuts were issues picked up by the Opposition to attack the DMK government during the campaign.


Image: Web-camera monitors the election process at a polling station at Kanyakumari

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A host of national leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, AICC President Sonia Gandhi, AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, BJP leaders L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Narendra Modi, Left leaders Prakash Karat and A B Bardhan had descended on Tamil Nadu during the fortnight to campaign for their party's nominees.

The ruling DMK is contesting 119 seats in the 234 member Assembly, leaving 63 seats to Congress, 30 to PMK, 10 to Viduthalai Chirutagal Katchi, seven to Kongu Munnetra Katchi, three to IUML and one each to Moovendar Munnetra Kazhagam and Perunthalaivar Katchi.

AIADMK is contesting 162 seats and has allocated 41 seats to DMDK, 12 to CPI-M, 10 to CPI, three to Manitha Neya Makkal Matchi, two to All India Samuthuva Makkal Katchi, one each to AIFB, All India Movendar Munnetra Kazhagam, RPI and Kongu Ilaginar Peravai.


Image: Polling officials checking the Electronic Voting Machines and other necessary inputs required for the assembly election

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