With the polling for the 15th Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu to take place on Monday, the campaigning for the multi-cornered contest is coming to an end on saturday at 6 pm.
Around 5.82 crore voters in 32 districts, including 2.88 crore men, 2.90 crore women, 4,720 third gender voters and 58,114 service electors are in the electoral role to elect their representatives from the 234 constituencies across the state from 66,007 polling stations. A total of 107,210 electronic voting machines, including reserves are made available for the election and there are 75,908 control units including reserves. Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is being allotted to booths in 17 constituencies, for the voters to verify their votes has been cast to the intended candidate.
A total of 3,776 candidates are contesting in the election, including 3,454 male, 320 female and two third gender. According to Tamil Nadu Assembly website, the Legislative Assembly consists of 234 elected Members from 189 general and 45 reserved constituencies (42 SC Constituencies and 3 ST Constituencies).
Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency, where Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is contesting, has the highest number of candidates - 45, while three constituencies Arcot, Gudalur and Mayiladuthurai has the lowest number of candidates, which is eight.
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader and incumbent Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader and former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, his son and former Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin, Desiya Murpokku Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMDK) Chief Ministerial candidate Vijaykant and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) Chief Ministerial candidate Anbumani Ramadoss are among the major candidates contesting in the election, this time.
AIADMK led alliance, DMK-Congress led alliance, DMDK led People's Welfare Front (PWF), BJP alliance with India Jananayaka Katchi (Indian Democratic Party) and PMK are the main contestants in the election scheduled on May 16, 2016.
AIADMK, along with allies has fielded 234 candidates, while DMK has fielded 180 candidates, DMDK 104, Congress 41, BJP 188, BSP 158, Communist Parties 25 candidates each and NCP 20. The total number of registered and unrecognised political party candidates are 1,235, while 1,566 candidates are contesting independently.
The largest assembly constituency in terms of electorate is Sholinganallur, in Chennai, which has over 6.02 lakh voters, while smallest assembly constituency electorate wise is Kilvelur, where there are 1.63 lakh voters.
The campaign, which started in a slow pace almost three months back started to gain pace with the Election Commission of India announced poll schedule for the elections on March 4, 2016. The nominations were submitted by April 22, on the day when the notification was also issued.
The nominations were finalised on May 2, with the time given for withdrawal of candidature expired on the day.
The campaign gained momentum along with the summer heat scortching the state and the Election Commission had to interfere with advice on conducting campaign during the day time, as there were reports of at least three to four people dying due to exposure to heat for a long time, during public meetings.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the state for thrice, first addressing public meetings in Hosur and Chennai, then addressing public meeting in Kanyakumari, and finally addressing a meeting in Vedaranyam, almost 360 km away from Chennai. Other BJP leaders including Amit Shah and various union ministers including MoS for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar, Power Minister Piyush Goyal, MoS for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan, who is also from the state, Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, among others with strong criticism against the AIADMK, DMK, Congress and others.
On the other hand, national leaders of Congress party, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi also visited the state and addressed public meeting seeking vote for the DMK-Congress alliance.
All the parties have promised complete prohibition in the state as their primary motto in the ensuing government, if they come to power. While AIADMK spoke about prohibition in a phased manner, others said they will implement prohibition in a day.
The Election Commission, led by Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhoni in the state, has taken several measures to stop the cash distribution among voters seeking votes. The cash seized by the commission crossed Rs 100 crore, which is an unprecedented amount ever in the history of the election in the state, according to officials. Out of this, around Rs 37 crore was returned upon submitting proper documents.
The commission has appointed black money surveillance teams, which are deployed across the state. Across the state 6,112 flying squads and static surveillance teams are pressed to service.
To promote ethical voting and 100 per cent voting in the state, the Tamil Nadu Election Commission has taken different initiatives to reach the public, including posters and contests in social media platform such as Twitter and Facebook.
As per the schedule, the votes will be counted on May 19, Thursday.