The high octane campaign for the April 6 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections ended on Sunday at 7 pm, with the stage now set for the polling on April 6 which will decide whether it will a hat-trick of terms for the AIADMK or the return of DMK after a decade in opposition. The Election Commission said items and cash totally worth over Rs 428 crore have been seized in the run-up to the polls.
As many as 3,998 candidates, including Chief Minister K Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam, DMK President MK Stalin, AMMK founder TTV Dhinakaran, actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan, Naam Tamizhar Katchi leader Seeman and BJP state unit chief L Murugan are in the fray. Leaders, including Palaniswami and Stalin hit the campaign trail on the last day, even as they have been criss-crossing the state for hectic electioneering, the former in a bid to ensure a record third term, while the latter is keen to upset his rival’s chances.
National leaders–Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi were among those who campaigned for the respective ruling and opposition alliances. The Election Commission has made it clear that no campaign activity shall be held from now on, including in social media and through other forms of electronic communication that includes SMS.
Over 6.28 crore eligible voters will choose 234 members of the 3,998 contesting the elections. In their “final appeal” to voters, Palaniswami and Panneerselvam sought votes to ensure “Amma rule” continued in the state, referring to the party-led government.
AIADMK is part of the NDA, the other constituents being the BJP, PMK and some local outfits. They sought support for the alliance party candidates also. The two leaders said in a statement that late chief minister M G Ramachandran had founded AIADMK to protect people of Tamil Nadu from the “evil force” DMK.
The party was luring women voters with false promises and only the AIADMK can assure a peaceful, welfare state with all-round development, they said. “Let’s stop the evil force from rearing its head again in order to protect the people of Tamil Nadu. This will be the gratitude we can show to Puratchi Thalaivar (Ramachandran) and Puratchi Thalaivi Amma (Late J Jayalalithaa) for their selfless work,” they said.
DMK leader Stalin, meanwhile, sought an opportunity for the party-led Secular Progressive Alliance. “Let the Rising Sun (DMK symbol) rise. Let’s retrieve our lost rights. Let’s make Tamil Nadu hold its head high,” Stalin, who has been accusing the ruling AIADMK of compromising on state’s rights on issues such as NEET, said in a tweet.
The DMK has been in the opposition since 2011 when the AIADMK under Jayalalithaa stormed to the ruling saddle and also retained power in the subsequent elections in 2016. Meanwhile, the EC said in Tamil Nadu total cash and kind seizure stands at Rs 428.46 crore.
The total cash seizure alone was Rs 225.5 crore, the rest being precious metal such as gold, besides liquor, an official release said. ” Last 72 hours are extremely sensitive from expenditure stand point. Towards this, round the clock surveillance along with CAPF (Central Armed Police Forces) teams has been taken up,” it said.
Patrolling has been strengthened during night and early morning along with expenditure teams and this has resulted in significant seizure in the last 24 hours. This included cash seizure of Rs 91.56 lakh in Ranipet district, Rs 1.23 crore in Thousand lights constituency, Chennai and Rs 1.15 crore at Veerapandi, Salem, it said.
It further said that in Tamil Nadu, 105 expenditure sensitive constituencies have been identified and extra efforts as mandated by Election Commission were strengthened. As many as 118 Expenditure Observers have been drafted to monitor expenditure by candidates and political parties.
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