April 6, 2021 10:01:43 pm
Kerala recorded a decent voter turnout of 74.02 per cent as of 8:15 pm in the Assembly elections Tuesday despite Covid-19 restrictions at polling booths. The final figures from the Election Commission would be released after taking into account the votes cast by Covid-19 patients and those in quarantine in the last hour of voting. The turnout in the Malappuram Lok Sabha bye-election was 74.53 per cent.
The turnout this time is less than the 2016 Assembly elections in which 77.35 per cent of the voters had exercised their franchise.
As always, the northern districts of the state have witnessed higher turnouts, with Kozhikode leading amongst them with 78.24 per cent turnout at 7:30 pm, followed by Kannur with 77.72 per cent and Kasaragod with 74.86 per cent. In this region, the LDF has traditionally had an upper-hand over the UDF. However, it is not clear if the decrease in turnout in these districts when compared to 2016 elections would have an impact on the chances of the incumbent LDF to return to power.
The lowest turnout as of 7 pm was recorded in Pathanamthitta district where 67.1 per cent of the voters cast their ballots. The capital district of Thiruvananthapuram, where fierce triangular contests took place between the UDF, LDF and NDA, performed marginally better with 70 per cent, according to EC figures.
The central Kerala region, with districts such as Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kottayam and Alappuzha, registered a largely uniform turnout above 70 per cent. The provisional turnout figures in these districts are 74 per cent, 73.7 per cent, 72.1 per cent and 74.4 per cent, respectively.
Stray incidents of violence were reported across the state through the day. In Kattayikonam in Kazhakootam constituency in Thiruvananthapuram district, police took several members of the CPM and BJP into custody after they engaged in clashes there. Four BJP members have sustained injuries and a BJP leader’s car was damaged.
LDF candidate in Kazhakootam Kadakampally Surendran raised questions about the police arresting allegedly innocent persons belonging to the CPM in order to satisfy the BJP. He alleged the BJP planned to incite violence in the area in order to disrupt voting. The CPM leader faces Sobha Surendran of the BJP and SS Lal of the Congress in the constituency.
In Balussery in Kozhikode district, UDF candidate Dharmajan Bolghatty was reportedly stopped by DYFI members as the former attempted to enter a polling booth. Though there were verbal arguments, Dharmajan subsequently retreated and the area became peaceful.
Complaints also arose from Trikaripur and Koothattukulam of scuffles breaking out between UDF and LDF booth agents.
Leaders of all three fronts and non-aligned parties expressed confidence in the voter turnout, claiming that they were winning the election. CM Pinarayi Vijayan was among those who voted in the initial hours of the day at a polling booth in Dharmadam constituency where he’s up for re-election. He claimed that the LDF would return to power with a bigger mandate than 2016.
Outgoing Congress opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala in a statement said the excitement shown by voters across the state signified that the UDF was destined for a historic victory. He claimed the people were voting in large numbers to oust a ‘corrupt and inefficient’ government.
Meanwhile, BJP state president K Surendran reiterated that if the BJP won 35 seats this time, it would be able to form a government in the state.
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