Insistence on production of voter slip caused problems to electorate across the district on Wednesday. Complaints were coming in from voters that the polling officers at several stations insisted on the slip. Though the electorate possessed photo identity cards issued by the Election Commission of India, the staff turned them out, public claimed.
Speaking to ‘The Hindu,' voters in Madurai North, Madurai Central, Melur, and Tirumangalam polling stations claimed that despite pleading with the officials that they had not received the voter slip either from the district administration or through the political parties, the officials rejected their claim and insisted on getting the slip. While some youngsters went in search of the agents of political parties seated beyond the 200-metre mark away from the stations and managed to get the slips, many elders returned home.
Similarly, there were complaints of poor arrangement of basic amenities such as drinking water and ‘pandal' (‘shamiana') at several polling stations. At Ettimangalam in Kottampatti Panchayat Union in Melur Assembly constituency, women voters were forced to wait for their turn in the scorching sun.
There were also complaints of minor errors in the functioning of the EVMs at a polling station in Shenoy Nagar in the city and a private college near Othakadai, among others. At Shenoy Nagar polling station, a voter identified as Syed Babu of Babu Jagajeevan Ram Street said that he (one among the first batch) cast his vote only at 8.55 a.m.At a polling station in Avaniapuram, at least two women voters in the queue fainted due to severe heat. A senior police officer was heard talking over the walkie-talkie to provide assistance but in vain.
“There is absolutely no facility for us here. We are waiting for over 45 minutes. A shamiana and some chairs for the elders and differently-abled persons could have been thought of by the officials,” they fumed.
At a polling station in Anaiyur, when an elderly woman pointed out that she might be permitted to travel in an auto rickshaw, police personnel refused. With the help of some youth, she was physically carried to the booth, Yuvaraj of the locality who had come to the station to cast his vote, said.
Though the District Collector U. Sagayam said a few days ago to reporters that the voter slips would be printed and delivered at the doorsteps of the electorate, they had not reached all the voters, public charged. Some political party representatives said, “At least we could have been entrusted with the task.”
When some electorate insisted on exercising 49 O option, polling officials at Palanganatham and Goripalayam pleaded ignorance, voters told reporters.
A 68-year-old woman identified as P. Yasodai of Periavandari in Tirumangalam Assembly constituency suddenly fainted at the polling station. A physical check revealed that she had died.
At a polling station in Ettimangalam in Melur Assembly segment, a minor scuffle between DMK and AIADMK cadres ended in exchanging of blows. At least four persons identified as Nachimuthu (28), Ayyanar (36), Malaichami (38), and Chelladurai (32) of the same locality — all belonging to the DMK — suffered injuries and were admitted in Melur Government Hospital by the 108 ambulance service, police said. The windscreen of a vehicle parked near the polling station was also damaged by the mob.
Superintendent of Police Asra Garg visited the spot. Heavy police was deployed, but again at 1.30 p.m., a person identified as R. Thiagarajan (49) of the same locality was rushed to the hospital after he was attacked by a mob.
In the morning, Mr. Sagayam told reporters at Corporation Kakkaipadiniyar Girls' Higher Secondary School polling station that elaborate arrangements had been made for the voters.
Keywords: Tamil Nadu Assembly elections