Chennai/Thiruvanathapuram: The process for the May 16 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry began on Friday with the issuing of notifications by the Election Commission.
Filing of nominations will now start for 234 constituencies in Tamil Nadu, 140 constituencies in Kerala and 30 seats in Puducherry.
The last date to submit nomination papers is April 29 and they will be scrutinized on the next day. May 2 will be the last day for withdrawal. Counting of votes is on May 19.
Around 5.6 crore people are eligible to cast their franchise in Tamil Nadu, where about 65,000 polling booths will be set up.
Tamil Nadu is witnessing a multi-cornered contest involving the ruling AIADMK, DMK, PWF-DMDK-TMC combine and PMK and the BJP-led alliance.
Among the top leaders who campaigned were AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, DMK President M Karunanidhi, his son M K Stalin, DMDK founder Vijayakant, MDMK's Vaiko and PMK's Chief Ministerial candidate Anbumani Ramadoss.
The Union Territory of Puducherry has a total of 9,48,717 voters and 4,97,790 of them are women. 930 polling booths would be set up.
In Kerala, the total strength of voters is 2,56,27,620 and 1,33,01,435 of them are women.
Soon after the notification was issued, several candidates filed their nominations.
The filing of nominations began at 11 am on Friday at district collectorates.
Former Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani, Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, BJP state President Kummanam Rajasekharan and party's former state unit chief V Muraleedharan were among those who filed their nominations on the first day.
Eight-three-year-old Mani, leader of the Kerala Congress (M), a constituent of the ruling Congress-led UDF, who is contesting from Pala assembly constituency in Kottayam district, filed his nomination papers before the returning officer at Kottayam collectorate.
Mani, who holds the record for longest-serving member of the state Assembly, had to resign from the Oommen Chandy Cabinet in the wake of the corruption allegations against him in the bar bribery scam.