COVID-19 precautions flouted in rural areas; minor scuffles reported in a few areas
At the stroke of 7 a.m., electorate were seen making a beeline to the polling stations resulting in long unwinding queues in many places in Coimbatore and Tiruppur districts.
In many polling stations, conservancy workers were busy cleaning and marking personal distancing circles. This resulted in piling up of voters in large numbers and the crowd started melting only after 9.30 a.m.
Kinathukkadavu, Pollachi and Valparai Assembly constituencies witnessed a brisk turn out. While there was optimal compliance to COVID-19 norms in urban areas in terms of personal distancing, masks and sanitiser, rural areas almost saw nil compliance.
However, in many of the polling stations in the rural areas of Coimbatore district, the voters did not maintain physical distance. As the turnout was high in the morning, people stood in queues in front of the booths, without maintaining distance.
In Coimbatore South, Congress nominee Mayura S. Jayakumar staged a protest accusing the BJP of distributing tokens to voters, while in Thondamuthur a scuffle close to a clash broke out between the DMK nominee Karthikeya Sivasenapathy and AIADMK cadre near a polling station in Selvapuram. Police averted the clash with much difficulty.
Late in the night, the polling percentage stood at over 66% in Coimbatore and over 67.4% in Tiruppur. Officials of poll machinery said with data still flowing from remote areas , there could be a variation of one or two percent.
All eight Assembly constituencies in Tiruppur district saw brisk polling. There were no untoward incidents reported.
One of the polling stations set up at a government school in Avinashi (Reserved) constituency did not have any personal distancing circles marked. However, compliance with wearing masks was seen to be high in both rural and urban parts of Tiruppur district.
A rumour that an electronic voting machine at a polling station set up in a private school within Avinashi (Reserved) constituency casts all votes to AIADMK caused a stir. However, the rumour was immediately found to be false. The Hindu visited the polling station in Kaniyampoondi, where a presiding officer said that a voter made the allegation at around 11 a.m., but the officials checked the control unit, ballot unit and the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines and found no faults. The polling continued as usual, he said. District Election Officer K. Vijayakarthikeyan told The Hindu that some sections of media reported the “false hearsay information”. “We have verified it thoroughly, there is no evidence of any such incident,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tiruppur City Police seized nearly 300 liquor bottles that were allegedly stocked up for sales in a rented room on Kongu Main Road.
(With inputs from V.S. Palaniappan, M. Soundariya Preetha, Karthik Madhavan and Wilson Thomas in Coimbatore and R. Akileish in Tiruppur)