Peaceful polling in Karur

Barring a few complaints of malfunctioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), polling was largely peaceful in the Karur Lok Sabha constituency, spread across Karur, Tiruchi, Dindigul and Pudukottai districts, on Thursday.

According to preliminary reports, Karur constituency registered 69.36 % polling up to 5 pm. Of the six Assembly segments, Aravakurichi witnessed highest the percentage of 73.47. While Karur and Krishnarayapuram recorded 72.62 % and 67.38 % respectively, Manapparai and Viralimalai registered 69% and 68.16 %. It was 66 % in Vedasandur Assembly segment till 5 p.m..

Though enthusiastic voters were standing in queues at various places even an hour before the commencement of polling at 7 am, the polling began on a sluggish note due to delay in conduct of mock poll in the presence of agents of candidates. In some places, polling officials struggled to set the EVMs and VVPAT right due to lack of operational experience, agents came late in some other booths. Polling began effectively about half an hour delay in several booths.

It registered just 10.1% within the first two hours of polling. Unlike previous elections, it took about 2 minutes for each voter to verify the vote on VVPAT, thereby the queue to move slowly. Long queues were seen both in rural and urban areas. Besides first time voters, elders and women came to their respective booths in large numbers. Enthusiasm was palpable among the first time voters.

“It was a fantastic experience. I went to the booth with a clear idea on pressing the right button for the right candidate,” said R. Pavithra Devi of Anna Nagar in Kulithalai, a first-time voter.

There were complaints that visibility was poor in some booths, set up mainly in government schools. “I found illumination poor. Elderly people found it difficult to choose their right button due to insufficient lighting,” said S. Jayavel in Kulithalai, which is coming under the Perambalur Lok Sahha constituency.

Polling remained peaceful all through the day in Karur, where the cadres of AIADMK alliance and DMK-Congress front clashed on Tuesday, the last day of campaign. Most of the booths in Karur town witnessed heavy turnout of voters. At Muslim dominated Pallapatti, burga clad women were seen in large number in almost all booths.

“I do not think that I have benefited by voting. But, I have never missed any election to vote,” said S. Lakshmi, 90, who walked half a km from her house under the scorching sunlight to the polling booth at Municipal Play Ground in Karur.

There were complaints of distribution of cash to voters in a few areas. The control room at the Collector Office received at least six complaints of cash distribution at Thokkupatty and Thirukampuliyur. During the 24 hours prior to the commencement of polling, the control room received 21 complaints of cash distribution by cadre of AIADMK and DMK-Congress.

T. Anbalagan, Collector cum Returning Officer, Karur constituency, told The Hindu that there was no report of untoward incident in any part of the Karur constituency and Karur district. Malfunctioning was noticed on 7 EVMs out of 1,650 EVMs. After about half an hour disruption, polling continued after replacing the faulty machines in the respective booths.

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