The blaring sound boxes fell silent, cultural troupes wound up their performances and flashy sports utility vehicles carrying the leaders of political parties sped away, as electioneering came to an end at 5 p.m. on Friday in the Sankarankoil reserved constituency, where a by-election will be held on Sunday.

Minor skirmishes were reported as campaigning attained a feverish pitch before coming to an end. The cadres of various parties were seen indulging in last-minute canvassing for votes.

Parties such as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam had inducted their leaders and cadre from various parts of Tamil Nadu for electioneering and all of them contributed their bit despite the soaring mercury level.

Vaiko call to voters

Concluding his hectic 23-day campaign, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko recalled that the Dindigul by-election in 1973, which witnessed the election of Maya Thevar of the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to Parliament, brought about a turnaround in the political history of the State and political career of M.G. Ramachandran, who successfully fielded his party candidate in the battle of ballots after floating his own outfit.

Several other by-polls in Tamil Nadu had also produced similar revolutionary results with the voters teaching a lesson to the autocratic administrators, said Mr. Vaiko. “Since you (the voters of Sankarankoil) are also suffering from anarchic governance for the past ten months and several nagging issues such as power cuts, you should teach an unforgettable lesson to the AIADMK by supporting the MDMK candidate T. Sadan Thirumalaikumar.”

Mr. Vaiko said that he doubted whether the March 18 by-election would be conducted in a free and fair manner as “the ruling party is luring voters with money.” He demanded that the poll be postponed.

Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam founder president Vijaykant, addressing his last election campaign meeting on North Car Street, levelled a similar allegation against the AIADMK.

Union Minister D. Napoleon, who skipped the presentation of the Union Budget for electioneering, listed the “achievements” of the previous Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam regime and urged voters to vote for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam candidate J. Jawahar Suryakumar.

As electioneering concluded, all outsiders were asked to leave the constituency.

Directive to lodges

The owners of lodges in the constituency were asked to allocate rooms only on production of a ‘no objection certificate' from the Inspector of Police concerned.

Indian Made Foreign Liquor retail outlets in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts will remain closed till 5 p.m. on March 18.

Apart from six companies of Central forces, 12 companies of the Tamil Nadu Special Police have been deployed across the constituency. Moreover, 24 mobile police teams are moving across the length and breadth of Sankarankovil in addition to patrol teams led by Inspectors and DSPs.