With the option for ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) becoming available on electronic voting machines for the first time in Tamil Nadu and the campaign for Rule 49-O picking up momentum in Yercaud, which is going to by-poll on December 4, there is considerable curiosity in political circles over whether Yercaud will overtake Pudukkottai, which, as an Assembly segment, holds the record of the maximum number of 49 (O) voters.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the Pudukottai Assembly segment, which forms part of the Tiruchi Parliamentary constituency, saw 10,267 voters invoking the Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, as the people felt aggrieved over the abolition of the Pudukottai Parliamentary constituency as part of the delimitation exercise.

N.P. Venkatachalam, Salem district secretary of Pasumaithayagam, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK)’s green wing, says that there are chances of many Vanniyars exercising the option as they are not happy with the DMK and the AIADMK. According to him, NOTA might even get the third slot.

G. Mohanasundaram, district secretary of CPI (Marxist-Leninist), says that even if five per cent of the 2.4 lakh voters in Yercaud exercise this option, the numbers would surpass what was recorded in Pudukottai. He feels that this can happen as many sections of the voters in general and members of Scheduled Tribes in particular are unhappy with the principal political parties.

Poomozhi, State President of Tamil Nadu People Rights Movement, says that with the option becoming easier for the voters to use, there will be more takers. His organisation will begin the campaign on Wednesday.

Members of the NH-68 Affected Farmers Association claim that they have a strength of around 5,000 and they all would press the button for NOTA.

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