Election to six Rajya Sabha seats from Tamil Nadu on Thursday saw brisk polling.

Though voting began around 11-30 am, nearly two and a half hours behind the scheduled time of the commencement of poll, it was over in a little over two hours.

Out of 234 Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs), all but three exercised their franchise.

The three MLAs belonging to Pattali Makkal Katchi did not cast their votes in line with the decision of their party.

Chief Minister and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa was the first to cast vote around 11-25 a.m. while DMK MLA from Tiruvannamalai and former Minister E.V. Velu was the last around 1-45 p.m.

The Assembly Committee Room at Fort St George was the polling venue.

The poll observer and Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar was present throughout the process of polling.

By 1 p.m., all the 151 AIADMK MLAs and 19 members belonging to the AIADMK allies - Communist Party of India (CPI), CPI (Marxist) and the All India Forward Bloc - completed casting their votes.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president and former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who came to the Fort around 1-10 p.m., came out of the polling station 10 minutes later.

Immediately after the DMK leader left the polling station, Leader of Opposition and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) president Vijayakant exercised his franchise.

All seven rebel DMDK MLAs cast their votes. At the polling station, they displayed their ballot papers to the DMDK's authorised agents of the DMDK before putting the papers into the box.

Even though the polling went off peacefully, there were moments of flutter when M. Arun Subramanian, DMDK's MLA from Tiruttani, instead of displaying his ballot paper only to his party's authorised agent, exhibited it openly. A.M.P. Jamaludeen, Returning Officer and Assembly Secretary, was quick to correct the Tiruttani MLA and advised him to show the ballot paper only to the DMDK's agent, which Mr Subramanian eventually did.

The DMK, which was assured of support of 32 MLAs including five Congress MLAs and two each from Manithaneya Makkal Katchi and Puthiya Tamizahgam, eventually found to its embarrassment that one of the votes cast in favour of its nominee, Kanimozhi, was invalid. The DMK’s agents, K. Ponmudi and Durai Murugan, tried to convince the poll authorities about the validity of the vote but Mr Jamaludeen ruled that the vote was invalid. Asked about the identity of the voter who cast the invalid vote, an official refused to divulge it on the ground that the identity should be kept confidential even in the open ballot system of polling.

The system’s essential stipulation was that voters should display ballot papers only to authorised agents of their respective parties.

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