Tamil Nadu records 26% polling till 11am, top leaders and celebrities cast votes

AIADMK's K Palaniswami, O Panneerselvam, DMK chief MK Stalin as well as celebrities like Rajinikanth, Vijay and Ajith all exercised their franchise on Tuesday.
Edappadi K Palaniswami, MK Stalin
Edappadi K Palaniswami, MK Stalin
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Polling is underway in Tamil Nadu with leaders including AIADMK's Edappadi K Palaniswami, O Panneerselvam, DMK chief M K Stalin, MNM Chief Kamal Haasan and celebrities like Rajinikanth, Vijay and Ajith exercising their franchise on Tuesday.

Top actor Vijay rode a bicycle to the polling booth, sparking speculations if it had something to do with the fuel prices, but his publicist later clarified that the star did so considering car parking problems in the small street where the polling booth was located.

Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo after voting at a polling station in Chennai told reporters that polling exercise was on 'smooth' across Tamil Nadu barring 'one or two' places that witnessed issues related to the Electronic Voting Machines and these were attended to immediately.

'Free and fair polls are on,' he said adding that so far there have been no complaints and observers and zonal parties were monitoring the polling exercise and in case of any 'problem' they would immediately take action. He also said no untoward incident has been reported so far, even as the state's 26.29 per cent of the over 6.28 crore voters exercised their franchise by 11 am.

Even before polling began at 7 am, people could be seen eagerly queuing up before the polling stations and voter information slips were distributed to the people to help them identify their booths. COVID-19 protocols were in place during the polling and the infected have been allowed to vote in the last hour of the 7am to 7 pm voting duration. They will be provided with PPE kits, officials said.

Chief Minister Palaniswami accompanied by his grandson, cast his vote at Siluvampalayam in his native Salem district and urged all people to cast votes. "I request (all) to perform our democratic duty," he told reporters.

Speaker P Dhanapal voted in Salem, Panneerselvam in Theni district and Ministers including SP Velumani and Sellur K Raju in Coimbatore and Madurai, respectively.

DMK president Stalin, after paying homage at the mausoleum of his party patriarch M Karunanidhi and party founder CN Annadurai cast his vote in Chennai. Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan, who is trying his luck for the first time in Assembly polls, cast his vote in Alwarpet, Chennai, before heading to Coimbatore from where he is contesting polls. After visiting a poll booth in Coimbatore, Haasan alleged money distribution was happening outside and that tokens were also being given to be redeemed for articles and hinted that he may file a complaint on the matter.

Congress leader P Chidambaram, DMDK leader Premalatha Vijayakanth, Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman, PMK MP Anbumani Ramadoss, a slew of actors including Surya, Karthi and Sivakarthikeyan were among those who voted today.

Actors Rajinikanth, Ajithkumar and Vijay were among the celebrities who exercised their franchise in Chennai.

Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan and state BJP Chief L Murugan also cast their votes in the city.

The state has 88,937 polling stations, 1,29,165 ballot units, 91,180 control units (which comprise the Electronic Voting Machine) and an equal number of VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) units. As many as 4,17,521 polling personnel are on duty and over 1.50 lakh security personnel including those from state police, Central Armed Police Force, and home guards have been deployed. There are 10,813 vulnerable polling stations and 537 critical and webcasting is being done from '50 per cent' of the polling stations.

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