Chennai: Voting to elect the country's 14th President was wrapped up in just two hours at the lone polling station in Tamil Nadu, where 232 legislators from Tamil Nadu, Union Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan and an MLA from Kerala exercised their franchise.
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami was the first to cast his ballot after which his ministerial colleagues Dindigul C Srinivasan and KA Sengottaiyan exercised their franchise. Except DMK chief M Karunanidhi, who represents Tiruvarur constituency in the Assembly, remaining 232 members voted in the presidential polls.
While Mr Karunanidhi is indisposed and did not vote following advice from his doctors not to step out, R K Nagar constituency is lying vacant due to the death of J Jayalalithaa in December 2016.
The polling, which began at 10 am, ended at 11.56 am with Mettur MLA S Semmalai, who owes allegiance to former chief minister O Panneerselvam, being the last one to cast his ballot. After the polling ended, Tamil Nadu's Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhoni said the ballot box, which can accommodate upto 1000 ballot sheets, was sealed at 5 PM and taken to Delhi by a 9.10 PM flight.
President of India is elected through the Electoral College consisting of MPs belonging to both Houses of Parliament and MLAs of all state assemblies in the country. The value of the vote of an MLA in Tamil Nadu is 176 and the value of MP's vote is 708.
K Boopathy, assistant returning officer (Secretary in charge of TN Assembly), took the ballot box to New Delhi along with Joint Secretary Subramanian. The votes polled on Monday would be counted in the national capital on Thursday.
While CM said he couldn't divulge whom he voted for since it was a "secret ballot", his rival O. Panneerselvam expressed the hope that the BJP nominee Kovind will emerge victorious in the elections. Kovind's rival is former LS Speaker Meira Kumar, who is being supported by DMK and Congress.
On his part, Opposition leader M.K. Stalin accused the BJP of enacting a drama by pushing for a "consensus candidate" without divulging the identity of the nominee. "All 88 MLAs except Thalaivar (Karunanidhi) voted in the elections," he said.
Besides them, Pon Radhakrishnan, representing Kanyakumari LS constituency and Parikkal Abdullah from Kerala voted here taking the total number of voters here to 234.
With all eligible members of the 30 member assembly casting their vote, the Presidential polls in the union territory came to a close by 12.30 pm on Monday. Twenty two legislators including all 15 members of Congress, 2 legislators of DMK, 4 members of AIADMK (Amma) and a legislator of main opposition All India NR Congress(AINRC) exercised their franchise within half an hour of the commencement of polls.