Polling in the city remained largely incident-free during the Greater Chennai Corporation election on Saturday while the turnout was 43.59% (men 45.45%, 41.57%) with most of the booths witnessing sluggish voting in the city. A few protests and complaints arose but were resolved then and there, the officials said.
The number of voters in the 200 wards of the Greater Chennai Corporation is put at 61.73 lakh.
Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi said polling was broadly peaceful. “Throughout the day, we were coordinating from the control room and sending zonal corporation and police teams wherever there were issues pertaining to EVMs or local disputes. Polling was broadly peaceful. We are awaiting the final reports of the Assistant Returning Officers for sending the report of polling to the SEC.”
By evening, at least 184 complaints pertaining to residents’ grievances, EVM issues and local disputes were registered with the Corporation. Officials sent teams to resolve the issues at the 15 zones of the city. A few residents organised protests at the Kasimedu signal where officials had reportedly delayed the replacement of a faulty EVM. Candidates in Ward 43 claimed they successfully prevented booth capturing in a few polling locations on Saturday. Makkal Needhi Maiam candidate Usha Rani said a few candidates had requested repoll because of allegations pertaining to booth capturing in a few booths.
A group of supporters of a DMK candidate barged into a polling booth in Odaikuppam, Besant Nagar and damaged an electronic voting machine (EVM) besides threatening polling officials. Police sources said It all started after an AIADMK worker was accused by the DMK of distributing money with booth slips, near a polling station in Ward 179 in Singaravelan Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur. On investigation, the police found the accusation to be false, and let her go.
DMK supporters then barged into the polling booth in Odaikuppam and damaged the EVM. They threatened poll officials and created a ruckus inside the polling booth before fleeing. Polling officials said votes which were stored in the memory of the EVM were safe and the polling continued with another machine.
Police immediately stepped up security and launched a search to nab the unruly persons by picking up DMK cadre Jayakumar for enquiry. His supporters gathered and indulged in road roko on Lattice Bridge Road, throwing traffic out of gear. A was booked and police are searching for those who damaged the EVM.
Meanwhile, Velachery police apprehended 27 bouncers in AGS Colony who were brought by AIADMK candidate Murthy.
AIADMK cadre protest
In Royapuram, AIADMK cadre led by party organising secretary and former minister D. Jayakumar staged a demonstration on Jeer Street demanding the police to take action against DMK cadre who allegedly indulged in rigging. They said DMK cadres entered into a booth and rigged the polling in the afternoon and AIADMK cadre rounded them up. While five to six of them fled the spot, they caught a man red-handed and handed him over to the police. However, police let off him, the AIADMK cadre alleged.
Commissioner of Police Shankar Jiwal inspected critical/vulnerable booths to ensure peaceful polling and issued instructions to the officers who were on the field. After visiting a polling centre in Adyar, he enquired with a presiding officer about polling for the day and if there was any pressure from booth agents.
Tambaram Police Commissioner M. Ravi went around and inspected all critical and vulnerable areas. Mr. Ravi said polling was peaceful and no untoward incident was reported in Tambaram jurisdiction. A five-tier security was arranged with deployment of 4,100 police personnel and non-police personnel and quick reaction teams, striking forces. Police officers were deployed in sectoral wise, he said.