A day after exit polls predicted defeat for the ruling UDF in Kerala, the Congress insisted it would retain power. State Congress president V M Sudheeran said the party strongly believes it will get a mandate for a second straight term. “The shelf life of the exit poll results are only until Thursday morning, when counting starts. The BJP and the CPM need not celebrate the exit poll results. The UDF will get a majority,’’ said Sudheeran. UDF convener P P Thankachan quoted intelligence reports that they would get 77 seats.
Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said the exit poll outcome indicated that Kerala voters have chosen in the true spirit of elections. Unless the BJP and the Congress have traded votes, Achuthanandan said, the LDF would touch 100 seats out of 140 .
BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan said the Congress and the CPM have engaged in “cross-voting” at Nemom and Vattiyoorkkavu seats to defeat the BJP. “They have mutually agreed to ruin the chances of the BJP,” he said.
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Heavy polling was reported in constituencies where the BJP or its ally BJDS were seen as posing a serious challenge to the UDF or the LDF. In Vattiyoorkavu, where BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan contested, the turnout rose to 69.83 per cent from last election’s 63.88. In Nemom, where BJP veteran O Rajagopal contested, it was 74.11 per cent, up from 67.49. In Kovalam, where BJDS is looking for a win, the turnout increased by 6.01 percentage points since last time.
Also, in Uduma, where Congress leader K Sudhakaran has put a strong challenge to CPM sitting legislator K Kunhiraman, the turnout increased by 6 points.
At the same time, the turnout showed little change in constituencies where the contests are believed to be one-sided.
The final turnout in Kerala was 77.35 per cent, over 2 points up from the last election.