U.T. records 81.64% voter turnout

Yanam sees the highest polling of 90.79%, Raj Bhavan the lowest of 73.24%

After a sedate start, polling to elect the 15th Puducherry Legislative Assembly gathered pace over the course of the day in 30 constituencies across the Union Territory to finish with an overall rate of 81.64% on Tuesday.

According to election officials, the provisional figures showed that the turnout was lower than what was recorded in 2016 (85.08%) and 2011 (85.52%)

The process was by and large peaceful, barring odd complaints of EVM snags at a few polling stations and minor protests over canvassing near booths.

The Union Territory has 10,04,507 voters, with the demographic wedge increasing between men and women since the 2016 election. There were 5,31,383 women against 4,72,341 men, apart from 116 of the third gender and 11,915 PwD (persons with disability).

The electorate included 31,864 first-time voters and 17,041 voters aged above 80.

The fight for the 30-seat Assembly (which has three additional nominated legislators) is essentially between the Congress-led alliance comprising the DMK, the CPI and the VCK and the NDA, consisting of the AINRC, the BJP and the AIADMK.

The Congress is contesting in 14 seats (of the 15 it apportioned for itself in the alliance), the DMK 13 and the VCK and the CPI one each.

The CPI(M), which was not allotted any seat, has fielded a candidate in the Muthialpet constituency.

In the rival camp, the AINRC is fielding candidates in 16 seats, the BJP in nine and the AIADMK in five. The PMK, which is not contesting, has extended its support to the NDA.

Former Chief Ministers V. Narayanasamy (Congress) and N. Rangasamy, BJP Puducherry president and candidate in Lawspet V. Saminathan and AINRC candidate in Raj Bhavan K. Lakshminarayanan were among the early voters.

324 in fray

The 324 candidates in the fray include nominees of smaller parties, such as the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, Naam Tamilar Katchi and Makkal Needhi Maiam, apart from several Independents.

By noon, the overall polling across the 1,558 stations was below par, clocking about 35.64%. By 2 p.m., the rates picked up to average 53% and reached roughly 78% by 6 p.m.

The turnout in the reserved constituencies of Thirubuvanai, Oussudu, Embalam, Nettapakkam and Nedungadu averaged between 80% and 85%.

The heaviest polling was reported from Yanam (90.79%), where the Congress did not contest, and the lowest in Raj Bhavan (73.24%). The polling figures were 80.08% for Karaikal and 73.53% for Mahe.

The last votes of the day were cast by COVID-19 patients, who were allowed to vote in designated stations wearing PPE suits.

In all polling stations, hand sanitisers and glove to press the EVM button were provided to voters.

Forty companies of the Central Armed Police Forces were deployed to assist the local police (2,420 personnel), Indian Reserve Battalion (901) and Home Guards (1,490) during polling. While 27 CAPF companies were posted in Puducherry, six were in Karaikal, four in Yanam and three in Mahe. An estimated 6,835 polling personnel were put on duty.

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