Kerala sees dip in voter number

Kerala sees dip in voter number

 Kerala’s date with a landmark Assembly election saw 71.7% voter turnout at 6 pm on Monday, which was lower than the 2011 turnout of 75.12%.

However, the figure is expected go past last year’s turnout in the final update, despite scattered showers in some parts of the state. Leaders of the ruling Congress-led coalition, the Left-led opposition and the new challengers — the BJP and its allies — chose to decode the turnout as a trend in their favour.

Kannur district, with 78.49%, recorded the biggest turnout while Pathanamthitta with 61.95% stood last.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, after casting his vote at home town Puthupally in Kottayam, exuded confidence in the United Democratic Front (UDF) retaining power.

Leader of the Opposition V S Achuthanandan and CPM Politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan said a vote against corruption would end the UDF run. BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan said the election was critical in that it placed the state at a new political turn. Kerala has more than 2.6 crore voters; 1,203 candidates are in the fray.

At least 20 constituencies, including Azhikode, Koothuparamba, Nilambur, Sultan Bathery, Pattambi, Pala, Poonjar, Tripunithura, Chengannur, Kuttanad, Aranmula, Kollam, Nemom and Vattiyoorkavu are set to host close fights.

For the first time in Kerala’s electoral history, campaigning in the state — with 140 constituencies — witnessed emergence of a third force led by the BJP, putting up a stiff opposition to the two main political fronts in many constituencies.

The Left front’s campaign rode on history — Kerala has been famously anti-incumbent in its elections — and a series of corruption scams which hit the Congress-led government. The BJP, too, in a first for the party, launched a massive campaign in the state with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party’s national president Amit Shah and ministers doubling as star campaigners.

 The party, eyeing an elusive Assembly seat in the state, has allied with Bharat Dharma Jana Sena, a new party launched by leaders of the backward Ezhava community.

All the top leaders, except Achuthanandan, cast their votes in the morning. Governor P Sathasivam, in a first for governors of the state, cast his vote in Thiruvananthapuram. Members of erstwhile Travancore Royal Family also broke away from tradition of abstinence from voting by casting votes, in Thiruvananthapuram. Mammootty, Sreenivasan, Dileep, Fahadh Faasil, Dulquer Salmaan, and Kavya Madhavan were among the movie actors who cast their votes. Minor clashes were reported from some parts of the state, including Palakkad, Kottayam and Alappuzha districts.

Four people were reported dead during polling in Perambra in Kannur district, Koothuparamba in Kannur district, Udumbanchola in Idukki district and Thuravoor in Alappuzha district.

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