Chennai: More than 5.79 crore voters will seal the fate of 3,740 aspirants including arch rivals Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and DMK President M Karunanidhi, as the stage is set for polling in 233 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu under tight vigil on Monday.
Besides AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, the electoral field also has two other chief ministerial candidates — actor-turned politician Vijayakant of DMDK-PWF- TMC combine and PMK’s Anbumani Ramadoss.
Of the total 234 constituencies, polling will be held in 233 seats as the Election Commission had deferred the process in Aravakurichi segment in Karur district to May 23 due to “unlawful” activities of candidates and political parties in “bribing” voters.
Election authorities have seized more than Rs 100 crore unaccounted cash in the state, the largest among the five states where elections are held since last month, amid allegations by rivals that both AIADMK and DMK were unleashing money power to lure voters.
More than a lakh police and paramilitary personnel would man over 65,000 polling booths across the state, which is witnessing a multi-cornered contest also featuring the BJP, seeking to make a mark along with a few minor allies.
Jayalalithaa, seeking a record second successive term in office, and Karunanidhi, eyeing to lead DMK to power after back-to-back drubbings in the 2011 assembly and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, are contesting from RK Nagar in the city and Thiruvarur respectively.
RK Nagar has the maximum number of candidates at 45, with DMK (Shimla Muthuchozhan) and VCK (Vasanthi Devi) also fielding women nominees to take on Jayalalithaa. BJP’s MN Raja is also in the fray.
BJP’s candidates include its National Secretary H Raja and state President Tamilisai Sounderrajan.
In her campaign, Jayalalithaa sought a renewed mandate based on her government’s performance while Karunanidhi harped on the theme of ‘change’ for his party to come to power after a five year hiatus.
Jayalalithaa also launched scathing attacks on the DMK- Congress alliance, restored after the split in 2013, calling it a ‘coalition of loot’ as she slammed them for corruption, such as in 2G spectrum allocation, CWG and AgustaWestland deal.
Her party’s manifesto offered several freebies, including mobile phone and 100 unit free power to all, and promised to usher in a phased manner prohibition, an issue raised by other parties prominently during the electioneering.
DMK and others have assured to implement prohibition in one go if they were voted to power.
AIADMK and DMK have been slapped showcause notices by the Election Commission for violating model code, saying their election manifestos do not “substantially” fulfil its guidelines and asked to respond by 5 PM today.