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Assembly polls | Tamil Nadu, Puducherry set to vote on April 6

Polling from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m, booth slips not compulsory: Satyabrata Sahoo

April 05, 2021 07:08 pm | Updated 07:08 pm IST - CHENNAI

05/04/2021 : The Chief Election Commissioner Satyabrata Sahoo inspecting the monitoring room at the State Secretariat in Chennai on Monday.

05/04/2021 : The Chief Election Commissioner Satyabrata Sahoo inspecting the monitoring room at the State Secretariat in Chennai on Monday.

Voters in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are all set to exercise their franchise, adhering to COVID-19 safety protocol, on Tuesday to elect new governments. By-poll for Kanniyakumari Lok Sabha seat will also take place on Tuesday.

In Tamil Nadu, which faces a five-cornered battle, the AIADMK-led alliance with Edappadi K. Palaniswami as its Chief Ministerial face is seeking a renewed mandate. DMK president MK Stalin, heading a rainbow alliance, is making a strong pitch to form a government with him as Chief Minister for the first time.

The front led by the fledgling Makkal Needhi Maiam founded by Kamal Haasan, Naam Tamilar Katchi anchored by Seeman and TTV Dhinakaran's Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam-led alliance are seeking to prove themselves as credible alternatives to the two Dravidian forces.

In Puducherry, where the Narayanasamy government was pulled down in February, voters would choose essentially between the fronts led by the Congress and the All India NR Congress.

Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo on Monday said polling will begin at 7 a.m. and end at 7 p.m.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, a day before polling, he also said 95% booth slips have been distributed and it would be completed by the end of day. The State, with 234 Assembly constituencies, has an electorate size of 6,28,69,955.

Mr. Sahoo clarified that as long as one’s name is in the voters list, booth slips are not compulsory. Voters can obtain booth details from National Voters Services portal or by dialling ‘1950’ helpline by prefixing the respective STD code.

On representations for cancellation of polls for alleged cash distribution, he pointed out that a report has been sent to the Chief Election Commission and they can take a decision any time.

Mr. Sahoo said 1,29,165 ballot units and 91,180 control units and 91,180 VVPAT units have been kept ready for the polling day.

He pointed out the total number of polling stations is 88,937, which is an increase from about 67,000 in the previous election.

As many as 4,17,521 personnel will be on polling duty, while 1,58,263 from police and non-police forces would be deployed.

Out of the police and non-police force, 23,200 will be from Central armed forces, while 16,350 will be ex-service men and home guards from other states. In all, 74,162 personnel from state police and 16,350 from state home guard would be deployed.

Mr. Sahoo said webcasting of the polling would be done from 46,203 polling stations.

He also said masks, sanitizers will be made available at polling booths, while PPE kits would be provided for COVID infected persons to enable them to cast their votes.

Mr. Sahoo pointed out district-wise highest seizure of ₹57.70 crore was made in Chennai, followed by ₹55.48 crore in Coimbatore, ₹44.88 crore in Salem, ₹15.43 crore in Tirupur and ₹14.42 crore in Chengalpattu.

Overall till 3 p.m. on Sunday, a total seizure of ₹428.46 crore was made, out of which ₹225.52 crore was cash.

Mr. Sahoo said more than 3,991 complaints about violations of model code of conduct were received through cVIGIL Citizen Mobile App. Highest complaints were received from Karur, followed by Coimbatore, Kanniyakumari, Tiruppur and Chennai.

He also pointed out in Tamil Nadu Election Commission portal there are apps through which differently abled can check on availability for wheelchairs and other facilities.

There is a queue app also for checking the queue in each polling booth and also to know about voter turnout (however the figure given by the returning officer would be the final), Mr. Sahoo added.

Postal ballot

Mr Sahoo said 1,04,282 postal ballots were issued for 80 years-plus voters, out of which 1,03,202 have been received so far. Out of the 28,531 postal ballots issued for differently abled, 28, 159 have been received.

Out of 30 postal ballots issued for COVID-affected, 28 have been received. For polling duty staff 4,09127 postal ballots have been issued, out of which 20592 have been returned.

Mr. Sahoo also pointed out that the Labour Commissioner has issued instructions for granting of paid leave to staff of private companies, to enable them to cast their vote. In a separate release, the Labour Commissioner warned of strict action against companies violating the instruction.

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