Neither the hot weather, nor long queues deterred voters from exercising their franchise in the Lok Sabha polls that were held on Thursday. This was pretty much the scene in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Sriperumbudur and Tiruvallur districts where voting was by and large peaceful except for minor incidents that were mostly brought under control immediately.
In some of the three constituencies of Chennai, the polling was brisk in the early hours, evidenced by crowds milling at the polling stations, particularly in South and North Chennai. While Chennai Central lagged behind in turnout during the day, in the final list provided at the close of poll, it was Chennai South that ended up having the lowest voter turnout in the State with 57.86 per cent.
Security was tight in most polling booths in the three city constituencies, with police cordoning off ‘sensitive’ booths with temporary barricades. Tension prevailed at ECI Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Basin Road, when for security reasons, voters were allowed inside only after they displayed the voter identification card even if they had the voter slip.
At Fathima Higher Secondary School, Saidapet, voters welcomed the stringent regulations. “I have voted in polling booths on Alandur Road for more than 40 years and never before has voting been so easy. I must congratulate the government for that,” said N.Adam, a senior citizen.
In Central Chennai, police were found evicting political party functionaries in vulnerable polling stations such as St. George Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School in Shenoy Nagar as part of measures to cope with vulnerability of such areas to poll-related violence.
Interruption of polls was reported in some polling stations including in Villivakkam, Chepauk-Triplicane, Anna Nagar and Thousand Lights. Web streaming was also affected on account of software problems. Of the 1,280 web streaming facilities in Chennai district, just 150 were functional.
“Web streaming was affected. But we have recorded the proceedings in all such stations. The recording will be scrutinised on Friday by observers,” said the official. In Chennai South, the Aam Aadmi Party alleged booth capturing and rigging by the AIADMK and called for re-polling in three polling stations — Perungudi Bharat School, Okkiyam Thoraipakkam Primary School and Guru Nanak College, Velachery
Polling was peaceful by and large in the Tiruvallur Parliamentary constituency, with no untoward incidents being reported. Technical problems were reported in nearly in 50 electronic voting machines in the constituency, but this was immediately attended to by the authorities. Barring a few untoward incidents, polling in Kancheepuram (SC) and Sriperumpudur Lok Sabha Constituencies passed off peacefully on Thursday.
Tense moments prevailed at a booth in Selaiyur this morning where, according to the MDMK candidate for Sriperumpudur Constituency, R.Masilamani, names of around 90 electors were found missing in the marked copy that was available with the officials at the booth. Subsequently, the District Election officials provided lists containing the missing names, he claimed.
(Reporting by P. Oppili, V.Venkatasubramanian, K. Manikandan, R.Srikanth and Aloysius Xavier Lopez)