RK Nagar bypoll ends peacefully

Polling passed off peacefully at the RK Nagar Assembly constituency here on Thursday, with an estimated 60% of the electorate exercising their franchise by 3 pm in the prestigious bypoll. Election officials said the final voting figure is expected later as many people were still waiting to cast their votes at 5 pm.

There were no reports of any untoward incident, officials said.

Serpentine queues were witnessed at polling booths right from 8 am when voting opened, with women outnumbering men in several centres. There were several complaints of snag in some EVMs, and consequential delay.

Some voters complained that their names were deleted, while others claimed their names were struck off the rolls wrongly categorising them as "dead".

The byelection is being held to fill the vacancy caused by the death of sitting MLA and the late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa in December last year. The bypoll is being seen as an litmus test for the AIADMK, as it is the first election since Jayalalithaa's death and after it got the Two Leaves election symbol back following merger of factions led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his present deputy and former rebel O Panneerselvem.

The key contenders in the poll are ruling AIADMK's E Madhusudhanan, main opposition DMK candidate N Maruthu Ganesh and sidelined AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran, contesting as an independent. Though 59 candidates are in the fray, including from the BJP, it is mainly seen as a fight between the AIADMK, its rival faction led by Dhinakaran and DMK. Madhusudhanan is a party veteran who hails from the constituency as also Ganesh.

Voting at 258 polling stations passed off peacefully with 2,500 state police personnel, 15 companies of Central Armed Police Forces and 1,638 election officers manning the poll process.

RK Nagar, represented twice by Jayalalithaa, has an electorate of 2,28,234, comprising 1,10,903 men, 1,17,232 women and 99 transgenders. Counting of votes will be taken up on December 24 and the results are expected to be out by afternoon that day.

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