Polling for Chennai’s Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly constituency ended on Thursday evening, with a voter turnout of 73.5%, ANI reported.
The RK Nagar seat fell vacant after its MLA, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, died in 2016. The run-up to the polls had the Election Commission on its toes to prevent contesting parties from bribing voters. The bye-election was earlier scheduled for April but was cancelled after complaints that cash was being distributed among voters.
The results will be announced on December 24.
Ousted All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader TTV Dinakaran is contesting the election on behalf of his faction of the party, while the ruling camp has nominated its Presidium Chairperson E Madhusudhanan. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s N Marudhu Ganesh is also among the other top contenders.
Around 3,000 police personnel, 15 companies of paramilitary personnel and 2,000 officials were deployed, according to The Hindu. The Election Commission sent nine election observers to the constituency, and every booth is under CCTV surveillance.
Earlier in the day, many voters complained that their names were missing from the electoral rolls, while some in the Tondiarpet area said they did not get their voters’ slip. Officials also received some complaints of electronic voting machines malfunctioning and voters being bribed.
After casting his vote at polling booth no. 134, DMK candidate Ganesh said he was confident that his party would win. “Voters of RK Nagar will teach a lesson to AIADMK this time,” he told ANI. AIADMK candidate Madhusudhanan, on the other hand, said, “God and amma’s grace is with us.”
Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Karu Nagarajan alleged that his rivals were bribing voters with cash, News18 reported. Dinakaran, meanwhile, refuted the allegations, and said that “people trust” him.
Following the acquittal of DMK leaders A Raja and Kanimozhi in the 2G spectrum scam, party leader leader Manu Sundaram said, “Regardless of what the judgment was, we were always well poised to win the RK Nagar bye-poll. But, now with this positive verdict, the margin of our victory will be much more.”
On Wednesday, the Chennai Police filed a case against AIADMK leader P Vetrivel for releasing a video clip of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa undergoing treatment at a Chennai hospital before her death in 2016. The clip has not been verified and its authenticity remains unclear. After the clip went viral, the Election Commission banned the media from airing any video footage that may “directly or indirectly impact” the bye-election.
Last week, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Working President MK Stalin wrote to the Election Commission, asking it to disqualify E Madhusudhanan for allegedly buying voters. Stalin alleged that the AIADMK had distributed more than Rs 100 crore to the electorate. DMK leaders also claimed they caught an AIADMK worker in one of the constituency’s neighbourhoods going door to door and paying each family Rs 6,000.