Of all the states at the polls on April 18, it was in Tamil Nadu that most Lok Sabha seats were up for grabs. Voter turnout in the southern state was at 71.07%, with the women of the region dominating turnout.
Despite having a high turnout state wide, questions have been raised about urban voter apathy as on 59.01% of potential voters cast their ballots across Chennai city.
This article has been updated to reflect the poll numbers for the state with ECI figures as of 10pm Thursday.
As Tamil Nadu goes to polls in the second phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the people’s concerns will be focused on issues like drought, farm crisis, closure of the Sterlite copper plant, and impact of GST and demonetisation, unemployment and the recent Pollachi scandal.
Of the 97 constituencies going to vote in this phase, 39 will be from Tamil Nadu.
The key players in this election will be divided in two major fronts in terms of alliances – the AIDMK front partnering with the BJP and and the DMK front allying with the Congress.
The AIDMK front features the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) the PMK (Pattali Makkal Katchi) the Puthiya Neethi Katchi, the Puthiya Thamizhagam and the DMDK (Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam).
The DMK front features the Indian National Congress, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), CPI and CPM , MDMK (a splinter group of the DMK), the Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi (IJK) and the Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi (KMDK). Both KMDK and IJK were considered close to the BJP so their crossover might come as a shock for the party.
In the 2014 general elections, the AIDMK went head to head with the DMK and won by a landslide, collecting 37 out of 39 constituencies despite the ‘Modi wave’. This was attributed to the party’s late chief Jayalalithaa’s popularity.
After the passing of the AIDMK and DMK’s supremos – Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi, smaller, caste-based parties have figured in major alliances for the Lok Sabha elections for the first time.
Among the contenders are Karti Chidambaram, son of P. Chidambaram, who was arrested in a CBI probe in 2017 over for allegedly interfering and influencing the manner in which the Foreign Investment Promotion Board treated INX Media Private Limited.
Also in the running is the BJP’s Pon Radhakrishnan, MP from Kanyakumari and minister of state for finance and shipping. He is contesting from his home base. In December 2018, he accused two French journalists of being spies when they were investigating the state’s illegal sand mining mafia, and was in turn accused of provoking communal violence through his statements.
Tamil Nadu has consistently shown a vehement anti-Modi outlook over the past few years, with the hashtag GoBackModi trending consistently on every visit the PM has made there so far. The issues that the people of Tamil Nadu will be voting based on include a severe farm crisis, which had farmers protesting at Jantar Mantar with the skulls of compatriots who had died by suicide. The state has also been protesting against the Sterlite plant, which activist say led the locals to have to “choose between bullets or cancer.”
Last month, Tamil Nadu reeled under the shock of the Pollachi scandal. Under a criminal extortion racket, hundreds of young women were allegedly lured to secluded spots and molested, filmed in the process, and later blackmailed for money. An AIDMK cadre was expelled for being a part of a group that assaulted the complainant’s brother, raising concerns of an underlying political network.
The shooting of the anti-Sterlite protestors is also a central theme, with Kanimozhi of the DMK and Thamizhisai Soundarajan of the BJP going head to head in the Thoothukudi constituency. The GST and demonetisation have also taken a toll on Tamil industry, with the textile industry in Tiruppur protesting vehemently.
The constituencies going to polls are:
Tiruvallur, Chennai North, Chennai South, Chennai Central, Sriperumbudur, Kancheepuram, Arakkonam, Vellore, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Tiruvannamalai, Arani, Viluppuram, Kallakurichi, Salem, Namakkal, Erode, Tiruppur, Nilgiris, Coimbatore, Pollachi, Dindigul, Karur, Tiruchirappalli, Perambalur, Cuddalore, Chidambaram, Mayiladuthurai, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Sivaganga, Madurai, Theni, Virudhunagar, Ramanathapuram, Thoothukkudi, Tenkasi, Tirunelveli, Kanniyakumari.