Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry go to poll tomorrow

New Delhi: The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for free and fair voting for assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala held between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday.

In Tamil Nadu, voting will take place for 233 seats, with voting for Aravakurichi constituency having been deferred, while Kerala will see polling for 140 seats, and in Puducherry, 30 seats will go to polls.

In Tamil Nadu, polling materials reached at all booths in the 233 constituencies. All non-sensitive booths will have policeman, while central paramilitary force personnel will provide security cover to the sensitive and hypersensitive booths.

Meanwhile, the election authorities are bracing for the possibility of an unusual rain tomorrow.

In a fresh development, the AIADMK and DMK have responded through email to the show-cause notices issued by the EC about the violation of its guidelines on promises of freebies as made in the manifestos of the two parties.

The Income Tax officials have asked the authorities in Tirupur to move the three trucks carrying Rs 570 crore to the chest of the State Bank of India in Coimbatore for issuing search warrant under the IT Act for further probe.

The sleuths of the tax body along with the team of officials delegated by the EC are probing the transfer of the huge sum from Coimbatore. The bank claims that it was a normal transfer of cash, though the investigators say original documents to substantiate the transfer were lacking. The three trucks were detained by the EC flying squad near Tirupur on Saturday.

Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhoni told newspersons, an ethical voting with a hundred percent polling is being targeted.

The EC has introduced many innovative measures during this election in Tamil Nadu, including getting booth slips through the helpline number 1950 in electronic mode, knowing the queue status before polling booths through smartphone apps and getting navigation help through Google maps to locate the booths by the voters by feeding their election identity card number in the apps.

For the first time in the electoral history of India, more than 1.64 crore voters made a pledge on last Tuesday that they would not accept or give money for voting, as money power in election is a big menace in the region. Thousands of youth volunteers at grass-root levels are also being pressed into service to help the election authorities to ensure ethical voting and to remind people to come out and exercise their franchise tomorrow.

In Kerala, with hours left for assembly elections, the government machinery has made elaborate arrangements for smooth and peaceful conduct of polls. In all, 2.56 crore electors, including 1.33 crore females, are expected to cast votes. A total of 1, 203 candidates, including 109 females, are in the fray. There are 21,646 polling booths across the State.

Briefing the media in Thiruvananthapuram, Chief Electoral Officer E.K. Mahji said a total of 1.12 lakhs polling officials had been drafted for polling duty. A reserve of 20 to 25% Electronic Voting Machines will be available in all the constituencies as a standy arrangement, he said adding that for the first time Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) will be introduced in 12 constituencies spread over 10 districts.

Special arrangements have been made for sensitive and vulnerable polling stations, especially in Kannur district.State Chief Electoral Officer E.K. Majhi said all sensitive and vulnerable polling stations will be guarded by Central Armed Police Force.

Besides, webcasting will be done in 3,137 polling stations and Micro Observers will be deployed in polling stations having connectivity issues. All the blind and partially blind voters will be permitted to reach polling booths with an approved companion to cast votes.

In addition to webcasting, photo coverage will also be done of the poll process. Majhi said there will be control rooms at the State and District levels to monitor if any poll violation takes place.

In Puducherry, all arrangements are in place for tomorrow’s polling. Briefing the media on poll preparedness, Chief Electoral Officer V. Candavelou said the third and final round of randomisation of polling personnel was done to the satisfaction of Election Commission Observers.

Over 9 lakh voters will exercise their franchise tomorrow in Puducherry. Voting will commence at 930 polling stations spread over four regions of the Union Territory. As many as 5,382 officials are deputed for polling duties.

Over 6,000 police personnel including the central paramilitary forces will provide security for assembly polls.

Meanwhile, the Election Department has introduced a mobile application which will give all information regarding tomorrow’s poll to voters.

The App will provide details of EPIC Cards, polling booth location, constituency-wise voters list and even the number of voters in aueue at any polling station at a given time.

The Commission has identified 148 polling stations and deployed micro observers and central forces for added security. (ANI)