Polling begins in 4 states, 1 UT, over 20 crore people to vote today

Polling has begun for assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. Voting is also underway for third phase of assembly elections in Assam and West Bengal. While single-phase polling is being held in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, its third and final phase in Assam today. Voting is also underway for by-polls to Kanniyakumari Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu and Malappuram Parliamentary constituency in Kerala. The voting began at 7 this morning in all poll-bound states. Voting will continue till 6 PM in Assam, 6.30 PM in West Bengal, and till 7 PM in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

In Tamil Nadu, 3,998 candidates including 411 women and two Third Gender persons are vying for the 234 Assembly seats spread over 37 districts. The state is likely to witness multi-cornered contests this time. There are two major alliances – the ruling AIADMK-BJP alliance and the coalition of the DMK and Congress.

In addition, actor-politician Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) and the newly-forged alliance between TTV Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) and Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) are also trying to make big inroads into the state politics. AIR correspondent reports that

The massive democratic exercise in the State takes place today amidst rising summer temperatures and increasing Covid cases. The Assembly elections are held amidst Covid 19 regulations in place. face masks have been made mandatory for all the voters.

All polling booths have been equipped with minimum basic facilities to make the voters exercise their franchise without any hassle. Shamianas have been put up to protect voters from the heat, Safe drinking water, special arrangements for persons with disabilities have also been ensured in polling stations. Poll booths have been given face masks, PPE Kits, hand sanitisers, hand gloves for health safety purposes.

Provision to dispose of used gloves have also been kept in the polling booth. As today is a paid holiday, voters are expected to come in large numbers to exercise their franchise. The election Commission with the message that no one should be left out has also made arrangements to operate over ten thousand buses for the benefit of the voters.

Election Commission has also made an arrangement with UBER to transport the elderly free of cost to cast their vote in Chennai Coimbatore and Tiruchy. Covid positive people can vote from 6 pm to 7 pm today exclusively.. According to political experts, this election expects a decisive participation of a larger number of voters as the State faces a multi-cornered contest in many constituencies.

In Puducherry, 324 candidates including 35 women are vying for 30 seats. Over 10.04 lakh voters including 5.31 lakh women and 116 Third Gender persons will decide the fate of these candidates. Total 1,559 Polling Stations have been set up for this purpose. Naam Tamilar Katchi has fielded 28 candidates and DMDK has 26, AMMK-25, MNM-22, DMK-13 Congress-14 while NR Congress has given tickets to 16, BSP-11 and BJP has put up nine candidates in the fray.

In Kerala, the polling for the assembly election began at 7 this morning. AIR correspondent reports, voting in all the 140 constituencies began today at 7 am and will continue till 7 in the evening in 131 constituencies and will end at 6 pm in the 9 naxal affected constituencies. Over 2.74 crore voters will cast their votes in 40,771 polling booths across the State.

There are over 5 lakh first-time voters this time. 957 candidates are contesting the assembly polls and 6 candidates in the Loksabha bypoll. The main contest is between the CPM led LDF, Congress-led UDF and BJP led NDA.Amid the pandemic, the polling is being held adhering to strict covid protocol. Thermal screening, usage of masks and sanitizers, social distancing etc are being followed and the last hour of polling is reserved for covid patients. Tight security is being deployed. Webcasting and CCTV facility is being provided in most of the polling booths to prevent bogus and double voting. Voters whose names figures, in the list of double-entry in the voters list, need to give an affidavit confirming the cast of single vote.

In Assam, voting is taking place for 40 seats in the third and final phase. Over 79 lakh voters will decide the political fate of 337 candidates including 25 women. Several high profiles candidates are in the fray in this phase including State BJP President Ranjeet Kumar Dass, ministers Himanta Biswa Sarma, Siddhartha Bhattacharya and Chandra Mohan Patowary, BPF leaders Pramila Rani Brahma and Chandan Brahma. 320 companies of security forces have been deployed. Webcasting is being done in over 7 thousand polling stations. All the Covid 19 protocols including wearing of masks, thermal screening are being followed in polling booths.

In West Bengal, 205 candidates including 13 women are vying for 31 seats in three districts during this phase. Over 78.52 lakh voters including 38.59 lakh women and 246 Third Gender persons will decide the fate of these candidates. Bharatiya Janata Party and ruling AITC are contesting for all the 31 seats while Congress, Left parties and their alliance partner Indian Secular Front are fighting under the banner of Sanyukt Morcha. CPI (M) and BSP have fielded 13 candidates each, ISF has eight, Congress has seven, AIFB two and RSP one while there are 68 independents along with 32 others are also in the fray.

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