New Delhi: The elections to the assemblies of Kerala and Tamil Nadu took place following COVID-19 health protocol and involving lakhs of personnel on Tuesday, April 6.
In two states today was phase three of the assembly election, which also meant the final phase in Assam. Bengal, on day three, saw significant violence across the three districts where polling took place.
Puducherry, the Union Territory, also went to polls today. Election to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council also took place on the same day.
Polling began at 7 am and the last hour from, 6 pm to 7 pm, was set aside for COVID-19 patients and those under isolation.
Elections to the 30-member TTAADC, which governs two-third of the northeastern state’s territory, took place amid heavy security on Tuesday.
Sixteen companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), 5,684 Tripura State Rifles (TSR) jawans, 3,435 police personnel and 263 Home Guards were deployed for the smooth conduct of the elections, Assistant Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Subrata Chakraborty said.
All 61 police stations in the TTADC-governed area were put on alert, and reinforced with additional forces, he said, adding that extensive patrolling was being carried out in the places where the elections took place.
The third and last phase of the state election in Assam, in 40 constituencies spread across 12 districts on Tuesday, was largely peaceful despite sporadic incidents of violence and disturbances in some areas, officials said.
The final round saw nearly 79% polling where the ruling BJP is battling the Congress-led alliance to retain power,
There were reports of a clash between two groups of people over some issues at a polling station at Dighaltari lower primary school at Golakganj. Police resorted to lathicharge and firing in the air to control the situation but none was injured, an official said.
The polling at the booth was stopped for a brief period and resumed soon, he said.
At a booth at Guptipara in Bilasipara West constituency security personnel were attacked by a group of people over distribution of free masks. Here too the police resorted to lathicharge when the attackers threw stones at the polling station.
As a result voting at the polling station was interrupted for about half-an-hour but later resumed normally, officials said.
In a polling booth in Bongaigaon, there was lathi charge by the police when a huge crowd arrived, an official of the force said.
Another polling station in the same constituency witnessed commotion when the presiding officer went to help a differently abled person to cast his vote. The situation was brought under control immediately by the police, an election official said.
In another incident police detained at least two persons from a polling booth at Kamrup Academy Higher Secondary School in Guwahati for allegedly distributing inside it BJP pamphlets carrying minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya’s pictures.
Around 10 people have been detained from different constituencies where voting is on, officials said.
EVM malfunctioning was reported in several polling centres and voting in them resumed after the machines were replaced, they said.
In Kerala, where the Left is hoping to beat anti-incumbency to retain power, a feat unseen in four decades, while the BJP is making efforts to build inroads, nearly 74% polling was recorded till 7 pm.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, health minister K.K. Shailaja, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, Power Minister M.M. Mani and Higher Education Minister K.K. Jaleel are among the prominent personalities trying their electoral luck from the ruling side.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, senior leaders K. Muraleedharan, P.T. Thomas and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan are among those contesting from the UDF fold.
The BJP, which has failed to make a dent in the state, has fielded former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan, ‘Metroman’ E Sreedharan, who joined the saffron party recently, state president K Surendran , senior leader Shobha Surendran and Rajya Sabha members Suresh Gopi and K.J. Alphons.
The poll is significant for Kerala Congress (M) chief Jose K. Mani who recently snapped decades-long ties with the UDF and joined hands with the Left front.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had camped in the state for several days and taken part in dozens of corner meetings and rallies, with the party hoping that the state will herald a turn in its electoral fortunes after a series of disappointments in recent years.
Two voters, including a woman, standing in the queue in Aranmula in Pathnamthitta and Chavittuavary in Kottayam collapsed and died.
Tempers ran high at Kattayikonam in Kazhakootam constituency, a stronghold of the Marxist party in Thiruvananthapuram district, as CPI(M) and BJP workers clashed.
Four BJP workers were injured and their car was damaged.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, who is the LDF candidate from the constituency, told reporters that the protestors aimed to disrupt the voting procedure and alleged that police had acted as “BJP agent”.
Three Marxist workers, including the minister’s personal staff, have been taken into custody. Sobha Surendran, the BJP candidate from Kazhakootam constituency, had earlier in the day held a sit-in in front of a polling booth in the area.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, seeking re-election from Dharmadom in Kannur, expressed confidence that the LDF would be voted back to power and register a ‘historic win’.
The BJP account in Nemom, the solitary seat won by the saffron party in the 2016 polls, will be ‘closed’, he said.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, however, said that a high turnout always augurs well for the UDF.
There was 63.47% voting in Tamil Nadu for 234 assembly constituencies till 5 pm.
DMK Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi, who is being treated for COVID-19, voted at a polling station in Chennai while wearing a Personal Protective Equipment kit.
In Tamil Nadu, both the Dravidian parties AIADMK and DMK went into the election without their stalwarts, J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O. Panneerselvam will cement their position as successors of Jayalalithaa if the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK) retains power though it faces an uphill task especially after the rout in the 2019 Lok Sabha election when the DMK-led alliance won 38 out of 39 seats.
The AIADMK had scored successive wins in 2011 and in 2016, when Jayalalithaa bucked the anti-incumbency trend — the first by anyone in nearly three decades in the state.
After a narrow defeat in the last assembly election where several exit polls had predicted his party’s win, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M.K. Stalin spearheaded a determined election campaign this time and vigorously toured the state to take on the ruling AIADMK.
He is seeking re-election for the straight third term from the Kolathur segment here while his son and party youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin is debuting from Chepauk-Triplicance constituency.
AIADMK Lok Sabha MP P Ravindhranath alleged that he and his supporters were attacked by DMK men on Tuesday. DMK’s Thondamuthur constituency nominee in Coimbatore district, Karthikeya Sivesenapathy alleged that ruling AIADMK and BJP people tried to attack him when he was travelling in a car.
Makkal Needhi Maiam, founded in 2018 and led by actor-politician Kamal Haasan, is trying its luck in assembly polls for the first time.
AIADMK ally BJP, which had not won any seat in the last polls, is contesting in 20 constituencies. Another AIADMK ally PMK is contesting from 23 constituencies.
The Congress, an ally of the DMK, is in the fray in 25 assembly segments.
Puducherry witnessed a contest between the AINRC-led NDA and the Congress-led Secular Democratic alliance. There was 77.90% polling in the Union Territory till 5 pm.
While AINRC fielded candidates in 16 of the total 30 constituencies, the BJP is contesting nine seats and the AIADMK is contesting five seats.
Yanam, where the AINRC leader N. Rangasamy is contesting, registered a higher percentage of polling than other regions.
The Congress has fielded candidates in 14 out of the 15 seats and is supporting an independent in Yanam. The DMK, its main alliance partner, has fielded candidates in 13 seats and the VCK and CPI are contesting from one constituency each.
The Congress-led government in the Union Territory had collapsed just before the elections.
The trend of high turnout and violence during polling continued in West Bengal as the ruling Trinamool Congress, the BJP and the Left-Congress alliance put up an intense fight in the high-stakes contest.
Five candidates, including two women, were assaulted in poll-related clashes as over 77% voting was recorded in 31 seats in West Bengal till 5 pm in the third phase.
Violence was reported in areas like Uluberia, Khanakul, Falta, Canning Purba, Durbrajpur and Hooghly, where a BJP supporter’s family member was killed.
The state is having eight-phase elections.
(With PTI inputs)