Five districts in the state — Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki — go to polls on Tuesday.

Two queues, one of men and the other of women, at a school in early morningVoters at Little Flower Convent, Kochuveli
news Kerala local body polls 2020 Tuesday, December 08, 2020 - 09:06

The first phase of the local body polls in Kerala has begun on Tuesdat at 7 am in five districts. Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki are going to polls on December 8. In the first hour, 6.81% of the voters in Thiruvananthapuram have cast their vote. By 8 am, 1,93,411 people have voted. The other districts will have elections in two phases on December 10 and 14 respectively.

Since 7 am, there has been a good number of voters in the polling booths, following all the protocols for COVID-19, including maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks. Voters sanitise their hands as they enter and exit the booths. There are 11,225 polling stations and 88,26,620 voters — 46,68,209 women, 41,58,341 men and 70 transgender people. There are 56,122 election officials.

V Bhaskaran, State Election Commissioner who came to cast his vote early on Wednesday at the Pangode LP School in Thiruvananthapuram, told media that it is hoped there would be a good voter turnout. He also spoke about the arrangements made for COVID-19 patients to exercise their voting rights. Special postal ballot papers were put in place for those in quarantine. An election officer, an assistant and a police officer would take the ballot papers to the COVID-19 patients in quarantine. There is also an arrangement to have COVID-19 patients cast their vote after 6 pm, when voting ends for the rest of the voters. Officials in PPE (personal protective equipment) kits will help them cast votes.

As many as 24,583 candidates are contesting in the five districts of the first phase of elections. The principal contestants include candidates from the three major political fronts, which include the CPI-M led Left Democratic Front (LDF), Congress-led-United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP-led-National Democratic Alliance (NDA). 

The LDF had won in 60% of the seats across Kerala in 2015, followed by Congress, while the BJP won only 1,200 seats out of 21,000 at various three-tier local bodies. While the fight is between the two main political fronts in the state —  the ruling LDF and the opposition UDF, the polls will also serve as a litmus test for the BJP. The party had won in 34 of the 100 wards of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, the largest urban body in Kerala, in the 2015 election. It had only four seats in 2010.

This year, there are 36,305 women and one transgender person in the fray.

Read: 36K women, one trans person in fray: 5 things to know about Kerala local body polls

(With IANS input)

Watch: Local body polls in Thiruvananthapuram

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