Polling for state assemblies in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry began at 7 am today.

 

Polling to 232 Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu that will decide the fate of over 3700 candidates, including chief minister J Jayalalithaa and DMK chief M Karunanidhi, commenced today morning.

 

Over one lakh security personnel have been deployed to ensure peaceful elections.

 

Though Tamil Nadu has 234 assembly seats across 32 districts, polling is being held only for 232 as the Election Commission has postponed it for May 23 in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur segments following complaints of voters being bribed.

 

Besides Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, a host of leaders including DMDK founder Vijayakant and PMK's Anbumani Ramadoss, both Chief Ministerial candidates, MK Stalin, H Raja and Tamilisai Sounderrajan of the BJP are in fray.

 

In Kerala, 2.61 crore electorate will be choosing their representatives from the 1203 candidates, including 109 women, who are in the fray.

 

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, IUML leader and Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty, Kerala Congress (Mani) supremo and former Finance minister, K M Mani, 93-year-old V S Achuthanandan, CPI-M leader, Politburo member, Pinarayi Vijayan, BJP state president, Kummanam Rajasekharan and cricketer-turned politician Sreesanth are among those contesting.

 

At least 52,000 police personnel have been deployed across Kerala for the smooth conduct of the polls, with 3176 polling stations being identified as 'sensitive, critical and vulnerable', including 119 in naxal affected areas of four districts.

 

The Union Territory of Puducherry will elect 30 members to the territorial Assembly.

 

The 9.41 lakh voters, of whom 4.94 lakh are women, are spread over the 30 segments in Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam, and will decide the electoral and political prospects of 344 contestants including 96 independents.

 

Important candidates in the fray are Chief Minister and AINRC founder N, Leader of the Opposition and former Chief Minister V Vaithilingam, PCC leader and Speaker of Puducherry Assembly V Sabapathy.