New Delhi, April 18: Polling for 35 Assembly seats in Odisha and by-elections to 18 Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry began at 7 am today in the second phase of elections. Stakes are high for Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal (BJP) in Odisha where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tried hard to make inroads. In Tamil Nadu, the by-poll result would decide the fate of the Edappadi K Palaniswami-led AIADMK government, which is ruling with a wafer-thin majority in the House whose strength has been reduced from 234 to 213. Check Full Schedule of Lok Sabha Polls 2019.
A total of 76.93 lakh voters are eligible to cast their franchise in Odisha. 244 candidates are contesting for the 35 Assembly seats, of which 219 are male and 25 female. Naveen Patnaik is contesting from two Assembly seats -- Hinjili and Bijepur. Senior Congress leader and opposition leader Narasingha Mishra is fighting from Bolangir Assembly seat, while BJP legislature party leader K V Singhdeo is contesting from Patnagarh Assembly seat.
Re-polling will also be held in two polling stations located in Malkangiri and Berhampur Assembly constituencies today following reports of glitches in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during the first phase of polling. 28 Assembly constituencies went to polls in the first phase.
In Tamil Nadu, the Election Commission is holding by-elections for 18-Assembly constituencies today while the remaining four seats will go to polls on May 19. A total of 269 candidates are in the fray for the by-elections. The 18 constituencies that are going to by-poll today had fallen vacant following the disqualification of dissident AIADMK MLAs. 17 of the 18 constituencies (except Thiruvarur) where by-election would is held were won by the AIADMK in May 2016.
In the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly, the ruling AIADMK has 114 members (including the Speaker), the DMK 88, the Congress 8, and the IUML and Independents one each. To attain a simple majority, the AIADMK has to win just four seats in the by-elections. Factoring in the switching of camps by some of the lawmakers, the AIADMK has to win seven or eight seats in order to be safe.
On the other hand, the DMK has to win all the 22 seats to take the tally, along with its allies - the Congress and the IUML - to 119, just one number more than the simple majority.
In Puducherry, the Thattanchavady Assembly segment fell vacant following disqualification of sitting legislator Ashok Anand (AINRC) on November 8 after he was convicted by a CBI court in a disproportionate assets case. Eight candidates are in the fray. The results would be declared on May 23.