Kerala recorded a voter turnout of 33.13% as of 11.30 am, in less than five hours, after polling opened across 140 constituencies for the 2021 Assembly election on Tuesday. Serpentine queues were seen at several booths across the state as polling began at 7 am. In many districts, high polling has been reported. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is contesting from Dharmadam in Kannur, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala (Haripad), senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy (Puthupally), BJP state president K Surendran, trying his luck from Konni and Manjewswaram and 'Metroman' E Sreedharan, (Palakkad) were among those who cast their votes.
According to data by the Election Commission, the polling percentage at 9.30 am in the state was 16.07%. By 10.20 am, the voter turnout was 22.7%. Kerala had witnessed a fierce campaign in the run up to the polls by the ruling CPI(M) led Left Democratic Front (LDF), Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP-led NDA. Talking to reporters after casting his vote, Chief Minister Vijayan expressed confidence that the LDF would be voted back to power.
"I have full faith in the people, who are with the Left," he said adding the front would secure more seats than it had won in the 2016 Assembly polls. â€śIt will be a historical win. The BJP account in Nemom will be closed,â€ť he said in a reference to the lone seat won by BJP in the 2016 Assembly polls.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said people of Kerala will give a befitting reply to the LDF in the polls and UDF would register a 'historical win'. â€śPeople are wanting a change from the corrupt government which failed miserably in handling the two floods, Nipah virus, cyclone Ockhi and the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ayyappa bhaktas will not pardon the state government for the manner in which action was taken against the devotees. The LDF will face the wrath of Lord Ayyappa and the people,â€ť he said.
Besides Pinarayi Vijayan, seven of his cabinet colleagues are among the 957 candidates in fray in the state. Voting is underway with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocol across the 40,771 polling stations in the state where 2.74 crore voters will decide the fate of the contestants.
Besides LDF candidates, MV Shremyams Kumar, contesting from Kalpetta on a Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) ticket and Kerala Congress (M) leader, Jose K Mani, contesting from Pala and Congress candidate K Muraleedharan (Nemom), were among prominent people who voted in the first two hours.
Voting for Malappuram Lok Sabha bye-poll, necessitated by the resignation of PK Kunhalikutty, who is contesting for the state Assembly, is also being held.
With PTI Inputs