Kerala polling 71.7% till 6 pm, lower than 2011

People wait to cast votes during assembly elections in Kasaragod. (Photo: PTI)
Around 71.7 per cent voters in Kerala casted their vote in the Legislative Assembly election on Monday till 6 pm, according to initial information.The state has seen 75.12 per cent polling in 2011 Legislative Assembly elections.The polling was generally peaceful though there were a few reports of violence in the northern parts of the state.

Polling started at 7 am in the morning and went on till 6 pm in the evening and according to the Election Commission, around 71.7 per cent was the polling, which is a tentative figure.The highest polling was registered in Kannur district with 78.49 per cent votes, followed by Palakkad where 76.50 per cent votes were polled while the lowest polling was in Pathanamthitta with 61.95 per cent.

Former Chief Justice of India and currently the Governor of Kerala P Sathasivam casted his vote in the morning itself, standing in queue along with the other voters without using his powers to jump the queue. According to reports, he is the first Governor of Kerala who has casted his vote while holding the position.

Ministers including Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala, V S Sivakumar, senior congress leader A K Antony, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President V M Sudheeran, CPI (M) leader and Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan, Pinarayi Vijayan, CPI (M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, BJP leaders including O Rajagopal, Kummanam Rajasekharan, BJP candidate and cricketer S Sreeshanth, film star and BJP's Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi among others casted votes.

Around 2.61 crore voters including 1.25 crore men and 1.35 crore women in Kerala are expected to move to the polling booths in Kerala on Monday to elect their members to the Legislative Assembly from 140 Assembly Constituencies.

After casting the vote, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters that the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) will win the election and if it fails, he will take responsibility considering he is leading the alliance.V S Achudhandandan, who casted his vote in the evening said that LDF will come to power with a huge majority.

This time there were a record 1,203 candidates including 109 women contesting in the election.There are around 21,498 polling stations across the state, where around 35,946 electronic voting machines were arranged. Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is being allotted to booths in 12 constituencies, for the voters to verify their votes has been cast to the intended candidate. Almost 1.5 lakh polling officials including police force has been deployed for the smooth proceedings.

The largest number of candidates are in Poonjar constituency, in Kottayam district, where there are 17 candidates, while the lowest number of candidates are in Payyannur, in Kasaragod, Nilambur in Malappuram district, Kongad and Tarur constituencies in Palakkad district, where there are four candidates each. 27 seats have more than one women candidates. The results will come out on May 19.

Indian National Congress is contesting in 87 seats while its ally Indian Union Muslim League is contesting in 23 seats and National Congress Party (NCP) is contesting in four constituencies. Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) is contesting in 85 constituencies while its ally Communist Party of India (CPI) is contesting in 25 seats, among others. BJP has fielded 98 candidates in the election.There are around 782 independent candidates contesting in the election this time.

UDF leaders including Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala are contesting the election, while in LDF apart from former Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, CPI (M) former State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, who has been considered as a strong Chief Ministerial Candidate for the party though it has not officially announced anybody as its Chief Ministerial candidate, is also contesting the election. Film Stars including former minister K B Ganesh Kumar, Mukesh and Jagadish and fromer Indian cricketer S Sreeshanth are contesting in the election this time.

Issues including the bar license issuance and prohibition, the alleged corruption related to the issuance of bar licenses, the allegations related to support to a Solar Power firm which entangled with several other cases has been some of the hot issued debated over the past two months. It also included the types of reforms the UDF government tried to bring in as against the developments the LDF claimed it brought in its previous tenure.

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