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Assembly polls for Tamil Nadu, Puducherry begin

assembly_pollpti_647_030416035604Chennai: With the Election Commission having made elaborate arrangements for free and fair voting, assembly polls in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry has began on Monday amid tight security.

In Tamil Nadu, 233 seats would go to polls, with voting for Aravakurichi constituency having been deferred.

Kerala would see polling for its 140 seats assembly. In Puducherry, 30 seats would go for polls.

The polling started at 7 a.m. and would end at 6 p.m.

All non-sensitive booths would have a policeman each for providing security and central paramilitary force personnel would give security cover for the sensitive and hypersensitive booths.

Meanwhile, the election authorities are bracing for the possibility of unusual rains today.

An unseasonal low pressure area has formed over the South West Bay of Bengal and adjoining Srilanka, that is set to bring heavy to rather very heavy rainfall from today for two days in many places in the state, especially in southern and coastal districts, as predicted by the Meteorological Department in Chennai.

The Election Commission has made additional efforts in the polling booths to provide cover for the voters to come and exercise their franchise without getting drenched in the possible rain.

In another development, the AIADMK and the DMK had, through email, responded to the show-cause notices issued by the Election Commission about the violation of its guidelines on promises of freebies as made in the manifestos of the two parties.

The notices were issued seeking clarification on the ways and means of fulfilling the promises of the huge dole outs by the two parties.

The Income Tax officials had asked the authorities in Tirupur to move the three trucks carrying Rs. 570 crore to the chest of the State Bank of India (SBI) in Coimbatore for issuing search warrant under the IT Act for further probe.

The sleuths of the tax body along with the team of officials delegated by the Election Commission are probing the transfer of the huge sum from Coimbatore.

The bank claimed that it was a normal transfer of cash, though the investigators say original documents to substantiate the transfer were lacking. The three trucks were detained by the Election Commission flying squad near Tirupur.

The Election Commission introduced many innovative measures during this election in Tamil Nadu, including getting booth slips through the helpline number 1950 in electronic mode, knowing the queue status before polling booths through smart phone apps and getting navigation help through Google maps to locate the booths by the voters by feeding their election identity card number in the apps.

For the first time in the electoral history of India, more than 1.64 crore voters made a pledge on last Tuesday that they would not accept or give money for voting, as money power in election is a big menace in the region.

Thousands of youth volunteers at grass-root levels are also being pressed into service to help the election authorities to ensure ethical voting and to remind people to come out and exercise their franchise today.

The Kerala Government has made elaborate arrangements for smooth and peaceful conduct of polls.

In all, 2.56 crore electors including 1.33 crore females are expected to cast votes.

A total of 1, 203 candidates including 109 females are in the fray. There are 21,646 polling booths across the state.

Special arrangements have been made for sensitive and vulnerable polling stations, especially in Kannur district.

Over 9 lakh voters will exercise their franchise in Puducherry today. Voting will take place in 930 polling stations spread over four regions of the Union Territory.

5,382 officials are deputed for polling duties. Over 6,000 police personnel including the central para military forces will provide security for assembly polls.

Meanwhile, the Election Department introduced a mobile application which would give all information regarding today’s poll to voters. The app would provide details of EPIC Cards, polling booth location, constituency-wise voters list and even the number of voters in queue at any polling station at a given time.

The Commission has identified 148 polling stations and deployed micro observers and Central forces for additional security.

(With ANI inputs)

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