Polling began at 7 a.m. on Tuesday in Kerala for the 140 seats single phase election to the State assembly, amid heavy security.
Long queues were seen in several polling stations much before the polling began.
Kerala had witnessed a fierce campaign in the run up to the polls by the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP-led NDA.
Here are the latest updates:
Pinarayi leans on religious metaphor to claim LDF would coast to victory
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said, arguably in a non-literal sense, that the deities of the land would bless the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
The government had stood with the people and succoured them during the catastrophic floods and later the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, seemingly metaphorically, that Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of Sabarimala temple, would favour the government because it had taken care of the people. Other religions also backed the ruling front.
Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala mocked Mr. Vijayan for invoking the name of Lord Ayyappa. He said after voting in Haripad in Alappuzha that Mr. Vijayan had trampled on Ayyappa devotees’ faith. The Chief Minister would face “their wrath and the disfavour of the diety”. Mr. Vijayan stared at “sure defeat”. He was “fearful” and had “invoked Ayyappa out of sheer desperation”, Mr. Chennithala said.
UDF will form next government: Chennithala
People will vote for change and the United Democratic Front (UDF) will form the next government in the State, said Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala.
Mr. Chennithala, who is contesting from Haripad constituency, cast his vote at Mannarasala UP School in Haripad. He was accompanied by his wife and other family members.
“The LDF government is enmeshed in corruption. It has failed on all fronts. People expect a change. They want the UDF to come back to power. Lord Ayyappa and his devotees will not tolerate the LDF government’s actions,” he said. – Sam Paul A.
Expecting historic victory for LDF, says Pinarayi Vijayan
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that people of Kerala will present historic victory to LDF. He was responding to media after registering his vote at Pinarayi RC Amala School. He was accompanied by his wife Kamala to the polling booth.
Mr. Vijayan said this would be an election that will show the strength of the people. “There are many things that have been done to mislead the government. But as it was seen in the last local elections, the people have rejected the false allegation and misleading campaigns against the LDF government,” he said.
Expressing his confidence, he said that people know what the LDF government has been doing since 2016. “The people were with the government for development and disaster relief. The people have lined up with the government for these five years,” he said.
A snag in the EVM had Indian Union Muslim League Malappuram district president Sayed Sadikali Shihab Thangal waiting in Booth No. 95 at CKMLP.
Sayed Sadikali Shihab Thangal
A technical snag delayed the beginning of polling in the centre. The snag developed after election officials applied ink on Mr. Thangal’s finger. He was the first voter at the booth.
EVM snag in Tripunithura booth frustrates voters
Voting at booth 35A at SNVSUPS at Eroor in Tripunithura Assembly constituency was delayed by more than an hour after the Electronic Voting Machine developed a snag even before a single vote was cast.
Much to the frustration of voters in long queues, the EVM was replaced at around 8.15 a.m., after which voting started.
Voting picks up in Kizhakkambalam
Voting gradually picks up pace as queues grow at a green polling station in Kizhakkambalam of the Kunnathunad constituency, where the battle is tightened by the presence of Kitex-backed outfit Twenty20, in addition to the three fronts.
Voters stand in queue at a green polling station in Kizhakkambalam of the Kunnathunad constituency,
Two-time MLA V. P. Sajeendran, who is contesting as the UDF candidate for a third time from the constituency, voted from Aikaranad. The UDF is confident of retaining the seat since campaigning had focussed on cementing the front’s existing support base in Kunnathunad, he said.
Over 7% voter turnout in the first hour of polling
Kerala districts are witnessing long queues outside polling stations after polling for the Assembly elections opened, with the State recording a polling percentage of 7.06% by 8.15 a.m.
Malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines were reported from a number of booths, but overall, voting has been progressing at a brisk pace across the State.
Meanwhile, several ministers and candidates of all three fronts cast their votes in the first hour. This includes Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, BJP State president K. Surendran, Metroman E. Sreedharan and IUML leader P. K. Kunhalikutty.
Electors who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are under quarantine will be permitted to vote in the final hour of polling. Kerala had recorded a polling percentage of 77.35% in the 2016 Assembly polls.
Heavy polling advantageous for LDF, says LDF candidate
M. Swaraj, the Left Democratic Front candidate contesting from Tripunithura Assembly constituency, said that the heavy polling being witnessed in the constituency is a reflection of people’s desire for a return of the LDF government.
The cliched observation that greater voter turnout is advantageous for the UDF holds little value, said Mr. Swaraj who was returning to the constituency after casting his vote at his home district of Malappuram.
He said that the posters that appeared in the name of Sabarimala Karma Samithi on the eve of polling urging voters not to vote for BJP to defeat LDF has only substantiated the unholy nexus between UDF and BJP. It should be seen in the light of the UDF candidate K. Babu’s claim that he will get the BJP votes. The Sabarimala Karma Samithi has denied having issued any such posters, which means that it was the handiwork of the UDF candidate, he said.
More than just an election…
Former Minister Babu casts his vote
Former Minister K. Babu, who is contesting from Tripunithura Assembly constituency, has cast his vote at Girls Higher Secondary School, Tripunithura. He exudes confidence of a victory and cites the heavy polling being witnessed as a favourable sign.
The allegations over unholy nexus with BJP and the sudden appearance of posters in the name of Sabarimala Karma Samithi will not in anyway hamper his prospects, says Mr. Babu.
Surendran casts his vote
BJP State president K. Surendran expressed confidence that BJP-led NDA will register a “massive victory” in the polls. He was speaking to reporters after casting his vote.
“Kerala is voting for a ‘third alternative’, and BJP-led NDA will register massive victory,” he said. Mr. Surendran is contesting from Manjeshwar and Konni.
E. Sreedharan among early voters
‘Metroman’ E Sreedharan, who is the BJP-NDA candidate from Palakkad constituency was among the early voters in the State.
“I have cast my vote, have good expectations”, he told reporters after excercising his franchise at a polling booth in Ponnani.
Brisk polling in Angamaly
Polling is brisk and more than 500 people in queue as polling started at 7 a.m. at the St. Anthony’s school in Mattoor, Angamaly.
The polling station is a Green Zone with all polling officers following the green protocol. There is heavy presence of health workers instructing people to follow the COVID-19 protocol. Masks, sanitizer are visible everywhere.
Mock polls underway
Mock poll is underway at the polling stations in Kerala ahead of the single-phase Assembly elections to 140 constituencies. The exercise is being held in the presence of the booth agents of the candidates.
Actual polling will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. across the State, except in nine constituencies in three north Kerala districts where it will close at 6 p.m. on account of threat posed by Left Wing Extremism. – Tiki Rajwi
Police, CAPF deployed in full force in State, along borders
Security has been beefed up in the State in view of the Assembly elections on Tuesday.
Deployment of State police and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been completed and heightened vigil ensured along the State borders, State Police Chief Loknath Behera said. Ninety-five companies of the police have been deployed across the State in view of the polls.
Strict action against fake voters, warns EC
Attempts to cast multiple votes or impersonate another voter during the Assembly elections on Tuesday will attract stern action, election officials warned on Monday.
Such offences are punishable with imprisonment up to one year or a fine, or both, under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, they said.