Chennai/Thiruvananthapuram: Amid tight security polling proceeded at a brisk pace in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and union territory of Puducherry on Wednesday, with no untoward incident reported so far.

Although voting started at 8 am, many began assembling at polling booths even earlier, not only to avoid the scorching sun later in the day but also to prevent others from casting the vote in their name.

Technical glitches held up polling in some booths but they were quickly set right.

The fate of three southern heavyweights --- Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi, his Kerala counterpart V S Achuthanandan and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa will be decided on Wednesday in one of the closest electoral battles in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

In the union territory of Puducherry also, voting to elect 30 Assembly members began on a brisk note with large queues before the polling booths.

Tamil Nadu, with 234 member Assembly, is witnessing tight electoral race between the fronts led by DMK and AIADMK. A total of 2,748 candidates, including 141 women, are in the fray.

In Kerala with 140 Assembly segments, the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF is battling to buck the trend of alternate fronts coming to power once in every five years. A total of 971 candidates are in the fray in Kerala, many of them are independents.

Tight security arrangements have been put in place in Tamil Nadu, where the Election Commission is keeping a hawk eyed vigil amid allegations of distribution of money to woo
voters. Around 15 percent of the nearly 47 million people voted in the first two hours, said officials.

In politically-sensitive Kerala, over 1.25 lakh security personnel including para military forces, have been deployed in 20,578 polling stations.

Tamil Nadu and Kerala have a total electorate of 6.91 crore and Puducherry 8.1 lakh voters.

War of words in TN

As polling proceeded the rival DMK and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu kept up the sparring and each claimed it was on the victory path.

Speaking to reporters here after casting her vote, AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa predicted a landslide win for her alliance and a clear majority for her party. The AIADMK is contesting in 160 seats.

Terming the DMK corrupt, she said: “There has been corruption earlier but not on this scale. Not only the 2G spectrum scam but people are also aware of scams in granite quarrying, sand mining and others.”

She alleged the DMK had spent around Rs 5,000 crore in campaigning and in bribing voters but added that people were determined to throw out the government.

Chief Minister and DMK chief M Karunanidhi is contesting from Tiruvarur near Thanjavur. 'DMK's chances are as bright as the 'rising sun' (the party's election symbol),' he told reporters here after voting.

The party is contesting in 119 seats. Expressing confidence that the DMK could get the numbers to form a government, Karunanidhi did not rule out a coalition either.

“It will be a DMK-led government. It could be a single party government or a coalition,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin and Finance Minister K Anbazhagan also predicted a landslide victory for the DMK-led front.