The nearly month-long heated campaign for the single phase Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu drew to a close Tuesday evening with Chief Minister K Palaniswami, DMK president M K Stalin and leaders of other parties making a final bid to woo voters.
Campaign ended at 6 pm also for the byelections to 18 state assembly seats, whose outcome is crucial for the survival of the AIADMK government, to be held along with the Lok Sabha elections on April 18.
Palaniswami, who along with his deputy O Panneerselvam has been spearheading the party's campaign in the polls, took to door-to-door campaign in his home district of Salem on the last day of electioneering.
Allegations of use of money flew thick and fast in the run up to the polls with the Election authorities seizing over Rs 127 crore cash and gold and other precious metals with a total value of Rs 284 crore in various parts of the state.
A question mark hung over the poll in Vellore Lok Sabha constituency amid reports that it could be cancelled over excess use of money power.
The district police had filed a complaint against DMK candidate Kathir Anand as well as two party functionaries on the basis of a report from the Income Tax department on April 10.
In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK, contesting in 20 of 39 Lok Sabha seats, is leading the NDA. The alliance comprises among others the BJP (5 seats), PMK (7) DMDK (4) and the Tamil Maanila Congress (1) of former union minister G K Vasan.
On its part, DMK, which is also fighting 20 Lok Sabha seats, has formed a "Secular Progressive Alliance" comprising the Congress (nine seats) and the Left parties, among others.
The electoral battle in the state is largely among the two fronts led by the Dravidian majors and the AMMK led by TTV Dhinakaran, an AIADMK rival, though parties such as the fledgling Makkal Needhi Maiam of actor-politician Kamal Hassan are also testing their fortunes.
On the last day of campaign, Palaniswami distributed pamphlets in Salem highlighting achievements of his government and the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre.
"We will not get a drop of water," the Chief Minister said touching the issue very crucial for farmers of the state.
He demanded that Stalin clear his party's stand on the issue since Congress was his party's ally.
Panneerselvam, who campaigned in Theni, hit out at Stalin for claiming the AIADMK will fade away after the polls.
AIADMK was a fort that would withstand any tremors since it was founded by late "Puratchi Thalivar MGR" (M G Ramachandran) and nurtured by "Amma" (Jayalalithaa) and had the blessings of the people, he said.
He recalled incidents of violence involving DMK members such as the attack on workers of an eatery here and said this was the situation even when the Stalin-led party was in the opposition.
Winding up his campaign in Tiruvarur, Stalin alleged the AIADMK and BJP governments did not do anything for the people and hence "could not spell out" any achievements.
He referred to alleged sexual harassment of a woman in Pollachi and claimed "several other women were harassed for years" there. He wondered whether the police department was functional in the state.
He listed the "mysterious circumstances" surrounding the death Jayalalithaa in 2016, the Kodanad estate heist and murder case and the Pollachi sexual assault episode, as top priorities over which action will be taken if his party assumed power in the state.
He expressed confidence DMK and Congress will come to power in Tamil Nadu and the Centre respectively.
DMK is banking on the byelections to have a shot at capturing power in the state. The party along its allies, including Congress, has 97 MLAs as against AIADMK's 114 in the 234-member assembly with 22 vacancies.
Eighteen of the seats will go for bypolls on April 18 and the remaining four on May 19. Simple majority in the full house is 117.
DMK's Dayanidhi Maran (Central Chennai), A Raja (Nilgiris), Kanimozhi (Tuticorin), BJP's Pon Radhakrishnan (Kanyakumari), BJP state unit chief Tamilisai Soundararajan (Tuticorin), Congress' Karti Chidambaram (Sivaganga) are among the key contenders in the fray for the Lok Sabha elections.
Dhinakaran, who addressed voters in the city, asserted his outfit represented the real welfare legacy of Jayalalithaa and sought their support.
Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker and senior AIADMK leader M Thambidurai, contesting from Karur Lok Sabha segment, completed his campaign by seeking votes alongside Transport Minister M R Vijayabhaskar in areas including Sinnandankoil.
Parties also resorted to an advertisement blitzkrieg in print, television and social media. The AIADMK targeted DMK over allegations like holding kangaroo courts, unruly politics and issues like severe power cuts during its regime.
The DMK advertisements which featured Stalin with a tagline of "Tamil maanam kappom," (let us guard the Tamil dignity) highlighted issues like the contentious National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test to the woo the voters.
Tamil Nadu has an electorate of 5.91 crore and 67,720 polling stations had been set up with tigh security.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)