A majority of the exit polls in Tamil Nadu have predicted a win for M Karunanidhi’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, after leading rivals All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam swept the 2011 election. The state, known for its anti-incumbency waves, recorded a voter turnout of 74.2% in 232 Assembly constituencies. Around 4.28 crore voters chose between 3,800 candidates in 232 constituencies in the state.

Two constituencies, Aravakurichi and Thanjavur, will vote on May 23, after the Election Commission found that political parties were buying votes there. Dharmapuri recorded the state’s highest turnout, at 85%, while Chennai had the lowest at 55%. For the first time in Tamil Nadu, women voters outnumbered men this time.

Around 300 units of paramilitary personnel had been deployed for polls in the state that is known for buying votes and often placing bogus votes. Besides security personnel, hundreds of the EC’s flying squad units had also been deployed. The EC has come down hard on parties attempting to distribute money to voters in this election, and has seized more than Rs 1 crore in the state ahead of voting.

Exit polls:

News X exit polls said the DMK-Congress would win 140 seats, and the AIADMK with 90, leaving the rest with four seats. News Nation gave the DMK and Congress 116 seats and Jayalalithaa 97. It predicted the BJP would win one seat and the rest, 20 seats. According to India Today’s exit polls, AIADMK will win 95 seats and the DMK-Congress 132. The C-Voter exit poll was the only one that predicted an AIADMK win – it gave Jayalalithaa 139 seats, the DMK-Congress 78, and 17 seats for the others.

In the fray:

Either the ruling AIADMK or its main opposition, DMK, has held the state since the 1970s. However, other parties including Vijayakanth’s Desiya Murpokku Dravid Kazhagam, Vaiko’s Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and S Ramadoss’ Pattali Makkal Katchi have stood for elections in the state. In these polls, among national parties, the Congress stuck with its alliance with the DMK, while the Bharatiya Janata Party stood alone.

This year also saw a new alliance called the People’s Welfare Front that tried to serve as a third option besides the AIADMK and DMK. The PWF’s chief ministerial candidate was Vijayakanth, who entered into the alliance with the MDMK, Left parties, and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi.

The last election:

In the 2011 election, the AIADMK and its coalition partners (which included the DMDK and Left parties) swept the polls, winning 203 seats. The DMK (and its alliance partners that included Congress and PMK) won just 23 seats. Most exit polls that year had predicted a win for Jayalalithaa, who is locally known just as Amma, but none predicted the sweep.

Electoral issues:

A complete ban on alcohol in the state was a major poll plank this time, with each major political party promising prohibition if they won the election. The AIADMK also promised a phasing out of alcohol being sold in the state. Analysts also said the December 2015 floods would be an issue in the election.