About 1.47 lakh security personnel are keeping a vigil on the poll process in the state.

Maintaining a brisk pace from the start, the polling percentage crossed the 60 per cent mark by 3 PM in the single—phase Lok Sabha elections to 39 constituencies in Tamil Nadu on Friday.

According to electoral authorities, nearly 62 per cent of the 5.50 crore voters exercised their democratic right by 3 PM in a trouble-free environs.

Dharmapuri (71 per cent) was ahead followed by Karur and Kallakurichi at 69.4 per cent and 66.9 per cent, respectively.

However, the turnout in the three constituencies in this metropolis appeared to taper after a brisk start.

While Chennai North recorded 50.4 per cent turnout, Chennai South, which has highest number of 42 candidates in fray, and Central Chennai recorded 49.3 per cent and 48.55 per cent polling, respectively.

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, DMK president M. Karunanidhi, DMDK founder Vijayakant, MDMK leader Vaiko, D Raja and D Pandian of CPI, actors Rajnikanth, Kamal Haasan, Ajith Kumar, Vijay and Jiiva were among the prominent personalities who cast their votes.

Emerging from the polling station after casting her vote, Jayalalithaa appealed to the voters and political parties to cooperate with the Election Commission for free, fair and peaceful polls.

In the battle for ballots, the fate of 845 candidates including 2G scam-accused Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja of DMK, Congress nominees Karti P Chidambaram and Mani Shankar Aiyar, AIADMK’s sitting MP M Thambidurai, besides those of BJP, DMDK and PMK will be decided by the voters.

Though the poll scene presents a multi—cornered battle, the actual contest is between ruling AIADMK and DMK besides the BJP—led six—party alliance, which is trying to throw up challenge to the two dravidian outfits.

Electoral authorities forced five companies, found functioning in an IT park in the city violating its directive to declare a holiday, to close down and lodged a formal complaint with the police against them.

Technical glitches in Electronic Voting Machines held up polling briefly in several polling booths across the state, according to reports received here.

Our Tiruchi Correspondent adds:

Brisk polling was reported in all the six constituences in the central region since the polling commenced at 7 a.m.

Long queues of voters were seen in the rural areas and the polling was peaceful without any untoward incident in the first two hours.

Brisk polling was witnessed in rural areas in Kunnam and Ariyalur in the sensitive Chidambaram-reserved constituency with police personnel deployed at vantage points and at booths. Armed with booth slips and Elector Voter Identity Card (EPIC), voters cast their lot.

Commencement of polling was delayed for about half an hour in the three polling booths in Tiruchi constituency, including the model polling station at the Corporation Primary School at Subramaniapuram in Tiruchi city. The delay was due to snag in Electronic Voting Machines. The snag was rectified and voting commenced immediately.

The District Collectors and Returning Officers Jayashree Muralidharan (Tiruchi), Darez Ahamed (Perambalur), N. Subbaiyan (Thanjavur), S. Natarajan (Tiruvarur) and E. Saravanavelraj (Ariyalur) cast their votes in the initial stages itself, after waiting in the queue for some time.

R. Vaithilingam, State Housing and Rural Development Minister, cast his vote in the panchayat union primary school, Telungankudi village near Orathanad in Thanjavur district. The candidates for Thanjavur constituency - T. Krishnasamy Vandayar (Congress), K. Parasuraman (AIADMK) and for Tiruchi constituency - Sarubala Tondaiman (Congress), P. Kumar (AIADMK), S. Sridhar (CPI-M), Mu. Anbazhagan (DMK) - cast their votes in the first two hours of polling.

While Mayiladuthurai constituency registered 12 per cent polling in the first two hours, Nagapattinam constituency registered 15 per cent, Perambalur 13 per cent, Chidambaram reserved constituency 13.6 per cent, Thanjavur 15 per cent and Tiruchi constituency 16 per cent.

Our Virudhunagar Correspondent S. Sundar reports:

Polling in Virudhunagar Lok Sabha constituency was peaceful with 46.5 per cent of 13.46 lakh voters turning up till 1 p.m. at the 1,526 polling booths on Thursday.

No untoward incident was reported till noon.

Sitting Congress MP, B. Manicka Tagore, two-time MP, Vaiko of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam are seeking re-election from this constituency.

Among other prominent candidates are D. Radhakrishnan (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) S. Rethinavelu (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) and K. Samuelraj (Communist Party of India - Marxist).

Except for minor technical snags reported in 12 places that delayed voting, polling went off smoothly in the district though not many votes were seen in the queues in urban areas early in the morning, unlike in the rural areas where large number of women voters formed long queues at the polling stations.

People in two villages boycotted polling over different issues.

At Valliyur panchayat near Virudhunagar, some 250 persons belonging to Mutharaiyar community staged a protest with black flag complaining that there was a definite scheme to "black-out" the name of their village, P. Kumaralingapuram, the main village of the panchayat.

R. Ramar said that though the village name was found in the electors' photo identity cards (EPIC) issued in the past, it was missing in the the voter slips issued a few days back.

Accusing another dominant community people for hatching a conspiracy to replace their village name P. Kumaralingapuram with that of Valliyur, they said even the ration cards, issued after 2006, do not have our village name. "The panchayat was earlier named after our village. But, even the name of the mother village is being sidelined. We cannot lose our identity where we have been living for generations," he claimed.

The villagers also produced two EPIC cards of the same person to prove their point. The card issued in 2001 bore the name of P. Kumaralingam, while another issued in 2007 did not mention it.

Depite revenue officials holding talks with them, the villagers, who claimed that they had 650 out of the 1,802 votes in the Hindu Middle School, said that they will not vote in order to draw the attention of the officials into the issue.

At the polling booth number 209 of Aruppukottai Assembly constituency, entire village of Kosugundu boycotted the polling complaining that the officials had deliberately shifted 167 voters of the village to another booth in the neighbouring K. Muthusamyapuram village in this election.

"This is the mother village of Kosugundu panchayat. All the four hamlets of the panchayat were voting here till recently. But, while bifurcating, they have shifted voters of this village to neighbouring village. If we do not protest with a boycott, this will never be rectified," V. Kasirajan, booth agent for DMK candidate, S. Rethinavelu said.

Out of the 402 votes in the booth, only three voters from K. Muthusamyapuram turned up to cast their votes around noon.

The polling officials complained that their effort to arrive at the village 22 km away from Sattur at 6 a.m. for the polling went waste.

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