Counting of votes will be taken up on June 15

Amid tight security and strict monitoring by election officials, the by poll to the Pudukottai assembly constituency went off peacefully on Tuesday with no untoward incidents. The constituency registered approximately 71 per cent polling.

The constituency, accounting for total electorate strength of over 1.94 lakhs with women outnumbering men, witnessed steady stream of voters who waited patiently and exercised their franchise braving the intense heat all through the day.

With the DMK and other political parties such as the MDMK, CPI and PMK boycotting, the fight is essentially between the AIADMK and the DMDK, the principal opposition party that has the active backing of the Communist Party of India- Marxist. While the AIADMK has fielded Karthik Thondaiman, the DMDK's nominee is N. Jahir Hussain. The Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi which has the backing of the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded K.P.N. Srinivasan as its candidate. In all, 20 candidates are in the fray.

With the administration making all arrangements, polling commenced on a brisk note in all the 224 polling stations across the constituency at the scheduled time of 8 a.m.

Armed with either booth slips or voter ID card, men and women lined up to cast their vote at the polling stations inside which web cameras were installed. Gun totting Border Security Force (BSF) personnel along with local police kept a strict vigil at the polling stations to ensure that the exercise went off in a peaceful manner.

Men voters outnumbered women in several booths in early part of the day in Pudukottai town as well as in other parts of the constituency where the election euphoria was starkly missing. The by poll was caused by the death of CPI legislator Muthukumaran who died in a road accident in the district in April.

The overall polling percentage which was 9.72 per cent exactly an hour after voting commenced in the morning hours, gradually increased as time went on and recorded 31.7 per cent at noon. By 4 p.m., the polling per centage went up to 65 per cent. The voter turn out in the interior parts of the constituency such as Theethampatti, Mazhaiyur, Pudhupatti and Varappur was equally impressive with some booths recording 60 per cent polling by 2 p.m.

In one instance, a few DMDK cadre alleged that one of their booth agent in Perunkondanviduthi panchayat was assaulted by a ruling party functionary outside the polling station at Kulayanviduti.

Official sources said there was no disruption in polling in any booth owing to malfunctioning of the electronic voting machines, adding that the exercise went on smoothly through out the day. The entire polling exercise was monitored online by Collector V. Kalaiarasi and officials at the Distinct Collectorate in the town.

As part of security measures, barricades were put up a few metres ahead of the polling station to prevent entry of vehicles. The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Tiruchi Range A. Amalraj told The Hindu that around 2,700 police and non police personnel were deployed for election duty. Collector V. Kalaiarasi said the by poll went on peacefully with no untoward incidents anywhere in the constituency.