Contradicting all exit polls but one and beating the state's tradition of strong anti-incumbency swings, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was elected for a second consecutive term on Thursday. The last chief minister who was re-elected was AIADMK's M G Ramachandran, in 1984. Counting of votes began in Tamil Nadu at 8 am amid tight security, while supporters gathered outside Jayalalithaa's home and Opposition party leader Karunanidhi's residence.
The state 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 May 16 polls. Exit polls had predicted a win for Opposition party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. The state has swung between the DMK and incumbent All Indian Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam since 1972, a trend that pointed to an AIADMK loss this time. However, a few hours into counting, trends showed a win for Jayalalithaa.
Though Jayalalithaa saw a historic win, the People's Welfare Front did not win a single seat. In the end, the AIADMK won 131 of the state's 226 seats.
Here is how the day unfolded:3 pm: Actor and politician Sarathkumar has lost in Tiruchendur by 26,000 votes.
2.45 pm: DMK's Dayanidhi Maran alleges AIADMK bought votes to win election.
2 pm: Jayalalithaa addresses the media, says there are not enough words in the dictionary to express her gratitude to the public.1.40 pm: DMK leader M Karunanidhi wins from Thiruvarur by a record 60,000 votes.
1 pm: Major candidates in the fray and how they have fared to far:
Pennagaram: Anbumani Ramadoss trailing, DMK candidate Inbasekaran is leading by more than 3,000 votes.
Thiruvarur: M Karunanidhi ahead by 60,000 votes.
Ulundurpet: AIADMK candidate R Kumaraguru leading. Captain is in third place, more than 13,000 votes behind Kumaraguru.
Madurai Central: A DMK bastion, both parties are neck to neck right now, with about 50 votes difference.
Kolathur: MK Stalin leading by almost 11,000 votes.
Saidapet: An area badly affected by the floods in Chennai seems to have voted DMK. Karunanidhi’s party leads by almost 5,000 votes.
Velachery: Also a low-lying area in the state capital that was devastated by the December floods, the DMK is leading there by around 7,000 votes.
12.25 pm: In a statement, Jayalalithaa says, "The victory is a historical achievement. I thank people of Tamil Nadu for it. You rejected DMK's false propaganda."12 pm: PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss is trailing in Pennagram district.
11.45 am: The DMK is leading in Saidapet, an area in Chennai that was badly hit by the December 2015 floods.
11.30 am: The Election Commission says AIADMK leads in 136 seats, DMK in 77, Congress in 11, and PMK in 2. The DMDK is not leading in any seats so far, even in Ulundurpet, where its party chief Vijayakanth stood from.
11.10 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls Jayalalithaa, congratulates her on her victory.
10.50 am: The AIADMK is leading in 127 seats, with the DMK trailing at 88, reported NDTV. The PMK is leading in seven seats, and the BJP-led alliance in just one. Celebrations outside the home of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa began as early as 9.30 am, according to reports.
10.30 am: Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is leading by 9,000 votes in the RK Nagar constituency.
10.10 am: The AIADMK has crossed the halfway majority mark of 118, according to NDTV, and has taken 128 seats already. The DMK trails in second place with 75 seats, followed by the PMK's four and the BJP's one. The People's Welfare Front is yet to open its account.
9.50 am: People's Welfare Front leaders Vijayakanth (DMDK), Anbumani Ramadoss (PMK) and Thirumavalavan (VCK) are trailing in the constituencies they stood from.
9.40 am: AIADMK leads in 103 seats and DMK in 73. No leads for Vijakayanth's DMDK or the BJP so far.
9.30 am: Trends continue to favour AIADMK – Jayalalithaa's party leads in 93 seats and DMK in 76 so far.
9.25 am: DMK's MK Stalin leads in Kolathur.
9.20 am: Early trends show AIADMK leading in 79 seats and DMK in 65, according to News18. AIADMK cadre are celebrating in Chennai.
9.10 am: Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam chief Vijayakanth trails in Ulundurpet seat. Vijayakanth was also chief ministerial candidate for the People's Welfare Front.
9.05 am: The AIADMK leads in 51 seats and the DMK in 40, according to News18.
9.02 am: Jayalalithaa leads in RK Nagar, north of Chennai, by 1,906 votes.
9 am: Election Commission data from postal ballots show the AIADMK leading in 64 seats and DMK in 61.8.50 am: According to NDTV, around 8.50 am, both the parties were leading in 24 seats. The election commission website, however, shows only two leads, both in favour of AIADMK. The Bharatiya Janata Party is leading in one constituency.
8.30 am: Early reports show the DMK leading in two seats, and the AIADMK in one.
8.15 am: The DMK leads in Orathanadu in Thanjavur district.
8 am: Counting begins at 60 stations across the state.
7 am: Supporters began gathering outside AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa's residence in Chennai, while top DMK leaders visit party head Karunanidhi's home.Jayalalithaa contested from RK Nagar constituency, north of Chennai, which is considered a safe seat for the AIADMK. The party has won every assembly election here since 2001. In the 2015 bypoll, Jayalalithaa defeated her lone challenger Mahendran C of the CPI. This time, she faced Shimla Muthuchozhan of the DMK, a new entrant in politics.
The Election Commission came down hard on parties attempting to distribute money to voters in this election, and had seized more than Rs 1 crore in the state ahead of voting. Two constituencies, Aravakurichi and Thanjavur, will vote on May 23, after the Election Commission found that political parties were buying votes there.
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.