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Stage set for counting of votes

93 counting agents, staff and media persons tested positive

The stage is set for counting of votes on Sunday morning for seven Assembly constituencies in Virudhunagar district, the outcome of which will decide the fate of 149 candidates in the fray.

The process will start at 8 a.m. with counting of postal votes in seven halls by the counting staff in the presence of Assistant Returning officer and counting agents. After a gap of 30 minutes, counting of votes from the control units of 2,370 electronic voting machines will be taken up.

General Observers for each of the Assembly constituencies – Rajapalayam, Srivilliputtur, Sattur, Sivakasi, Virudhunagar, Aruppukottai and Tiruchuli – will be present in the respective counting halls.

General Observers, along with Collector and District Election Officer R. Kannan, inspected the arrangements made at the counting halls.

After a stringent protocol issued by the Election Commission, the district administration has made it mandatory for all candidates, their agents, counting staff, officials and media persons to get a negative RT-PCR test report or certificate of having taken both doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

A total of 93 persons, including agents, staff and media persons, tested positive after they gave their swab samples at special camps held on Thursday and Friday. Replacements will be arranged for those agents and officials who have tested positive. The Election Commission has ordered disinfection of the counting halls after every three rounds. Similarly, every alternative counting agent should wear personal protective equipment kit.

Meanwhile, a statement said that no vehicles would be allowed within 100 metres radius of the counting centre. Entry will be allowed only after thermal scanning. Medical teams will be deployed at the counting centres.

The counting agents for Rajapalayam, Srivilliputtur and Sivakasi should go through the entrance of Sri Vidhya Arts and Science College and for the remaining four constituencies, the entry is through Sri Vidhya College for Engineering and Technology.

Agents for postal vote counting can go though Alagapuri Road entrance. Vehicles can be parked on the VVV College of Nursing premises.

Central paramilitary force personnel and local police have been deployed at the counting centres.

While the contest is between the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam alliance and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led front, parties like Amma Munnetra Kazhagam, Naam Tamilar and Makkal Needhi Maiam have made it a multi-cornered contest.

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswamy had travelled across the district and DMK leader M. K. Stalin had an election meeting at Rajapalayam. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and State leaders of alliance parties had also come to the district and campaigned for their fronts.

Prominent candidates are Minister K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji (Rajapalayam), sitting MLAs K. K. S. S. R. Ramachandran (Aruppukottai), Thangam Thennarasu (Tiruchuli), A. R. R. Seenivasan (Virudhunagar) and S. Thangapandian (Rajapalayam) – all DMK, and M. S. R. Rajavarman (AMMK).

Former Minister Vaigaichelvam and former MLA K.K. Sivasamy are also back in the fray.

Congress candidate P. S. W. Madhava Rao, who was admitted to hospital for COVID-19, succumbed after the polling.

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