The first phase of local body polls in seven districts in Kerala commenced this morning with heavy rains playing spoilsport in various parts of Thiruvananthapuram.
The crucial polls, seen as the semi-finals before the next year’s Assembly polls, saw both the Congress-led UDF and LDF, spearheaded by CPI-M, going all out to woo voters. Polling began at 7 AM at Kollam, Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kasaragod, Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram with over one crore voters eligible to exercise their franchise by 5 PM.
CPI(M) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan, speaking to reporters after casting his vote at a booth in Kannur district, claimed the election will see the end of the Congress-led front in the state, while KPCC President V M Sudheeran expressed confidence of the front’s good performance.
BJP’s move to break the bipolar polity in the state with the support of Ezhava outfit Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) also gives an added significance to the civic polls.
Former Union ministers Mullappally Ramachandran, O Rajagopal, Kodikunnil Suresh and state health minister V S Sivakumar were among the early voters.
In the first phase, a total of 31,161 candidates, including 582 in district panchayats, 2,844 in block panchayats, 22,788 in village panchayats, 1,315 in corporations and 3632 in municipalities are seeking their poll prospects.
According to state Election Commission figures, there are 1,11,11,006 voters in these seven districts. The polls in the remaining seven districts – Alappuzha, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Kottayam, Malappuram and Palakkad – will be held in the second phase on November 5.
The counting will be held on November 7.
Meanwhile, a man, waiting in the queue to cast his franchise in Kasaragod district, collapsed and died on way to hospital, police said.