Kerala Forest Minister Tiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, former Finance Minister K. M. Mani and state BJP President Kummanam Rajasekharan were among more than 122 candidates who entered the electoral fray as filing of nominations for May 16 assembly elections in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry began on Friday.
K. Muraleedharan, Padmaja Venugopal (both Congress) and C. P. John (CMP) also filed their papers from ruling UDF camp as did former BJP Kerala unit chief V. Muraleedharan as the state, which has a 140-member Assembly, saw 29 nominations on the opening day.
In Tamil Nadu which has a 234-member Assembly, DMK's Erode West Constituency candidate, former minister S. Muthusamy and the party nominee TPM Moideen Khan at Palayamkottai were among the over 70 candidates who filed their nominations while three independents submitted their papers in Puducherry.
83-year-old K. M. Mani, leader of Kerala Congress (M), a constituent of ruling Congress-led UDF, who is contesting from Pala constituency in Kottayam district, filed his papers in Kottayam.
Mani, who holds the record of longest serving member of the state Assembly, had to resign from Oommen Chandy cabinet in the wake of the corruption allegations against him in the bar bribery scam.
Seven nominations each were filed in Thiruvananthapuram and Kottayam districts, the maximum. The filing of nominations will continue till April 29 and the scrutiny of papers will be held on April 30. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is May 2.
In Tamil Nadu, AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa is expected to file nomination next week from R. K. Nagar in Chennai while her rival and DMK President M. Karunanidhi is scheduled file it on April 25 from his native Tiruvarur constituency.
Others including Chief Ministerial candidates of DMDK and PMK, Vijayakant and Anbumani Ramadoss respectively, and MDMK founder Vaiko are also likely to file nominations next week.
Fortyseven observers have been appointed as observers during the election in Kerala where hectic campaign is on for a three-cornered fight for the first time. Besides Congress-led UDF and CPI(M)-headed LDF, BJP-led NDA alliance is also in the poll arena aiming to open its account this time. It has tied up with Bharat Dharma Jana Sena, a political party floated by the SNDP, an organisation of backward Ezhava community in the state.
Prime minister, Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Vice President Rahul Gandhi, CPI(M) General secretary Sitaram Yechury are among those who are expected to hit the campaign trail in Kerala.
Counting of votes in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, along with West Bengal and Assam, will be taken up on May 19.
Meanwhile, the EC in Tamil Nadu announced that nominations will not be received tomorrow on account of the day being a government holiday.
The CEO's office also said that its surveillance teams have so far seized Rs 30.22 crore in cash.
A Puducherry report said three independent candidates filed nominations today. Those filed nomination papers were N. Balu, K. Murugan and K. Ramadoss from Oulgaret, Lawspet and Embalam (reserved) constituencies respectively, District Election Officer P. Jawahar told reporters.