Voting came to an end in the gods own country Kerala, where a fascinating contest between arch rivals Oommen Chandy and 93-year-old veteran V S Achutanandan was challenged by new entrant, BJP. Over 77 per cent polling was registered until the end of day.
Heavy rains lashing from Sunday night hampered polling in Kottayam, Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Idukki districts causing inconvenience to may voters.
Except a an minor incident Kalliassery constituency no untoward incident was reported so far in the state which is guarded by more than 52,000 police personal and central forces.
“The 119 polling stations in naxal areas come under the districts of Palakkad, Kozhikode, Kannur and Wayanad, and they will be under special security blanket,” said Chief Electoral Officer E K Majhi.
In a first, a state governor has exercised his franchise in the state. Kerala Governor P Sathasivam and his wife voted in the capital.
“As a first citizen (of the state), I request all citizens to come and vote. This is my humble request,” said the Kerala Governor.
A total of 1,203 candidates, including 109 women, are contesting for the 140 assembly seats in the state as the ruling UDF and LDF went hammer and tongs at each other during the electioneering.
For the ruling UDF, it is a battle for retaining power in the State. A success would also present an opportunity for the Congress to stage a comeback at the national level, after its humiliating loss in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. On the other hand, a drubbing in the polls for the LDF would spell disaster for it especially at a time when Left is trying hard for a comeback in West Bengal, once a stronghold of the Communists.
CM Oommen Chandy, accompanied by his family arrives at Georgian Public School, Puthuppally to cast his vote. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and LDF’s Chief Ministerial aspirant Pinarayi Vijayan, senior Congress leader A K Antony, IUML leader and Industries Minister P K Kunhaikutty and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP and actor Suresh Gopi were few important leaders among the early voters.
93-year-old CPI(M) leader V S Achutanandan was seen visiting various booths in his Malampuzha constituency in the morning.
“Heavy rush of voters in booths and the rains were a sign of “good tidings” to come. Rains are a blessing for the parched farmlands in Palakkad,” said the Veteran leader.
As many as 1,11,897 polling officials from state and central government services have been drafted for polling duty in addition to those from banks and public sector undertakings.
There are 80 counting centres and counting of votes of all the 140 constituencies will be done simultaneously in these centres on May 19.