Thiruvananthapuram: Congress leader and former Kerala chief minister A.K. Antony predicted a ‘shock’ result in the state as Kerala inched towards a high polling percentage in Tuesday’s single-phase voting for the state assembly.
By 6.30 pm, reports indicated that state-wide polling percentage had crossed 70. In 2016, the final polling percentage was 77.1, which seemed likely to be overtaken this time.
Kerala has 957 candidates in the fray and 27.4 million voters are electing the 140 lawmakers to the state assembly in the single-phase election.
The polling percentage may be higher this year because of the keen competition between the Congress and Communist-led fronts and the Bharatiya Janata Party keen to raise its vote percentage from 15 per cent. There is also the Twenty20 party putting up a strong fight in 8 constituencies in Ernakulam district.
Congress leader and former Kerala chief minister A.K. Antony said there would be a ‘shock’ result this time, indirectly suggesting that the majority of pre-poll surveys that pointed to the Left Democratic Front retaining power in the state will be disproved.
“The anti-government emotion in the state is high. I am saying this based on the polling trend”, Antony said. The former chief minister cast his vote at Jagathy in Thiruvananthapuram.
Almost every pre-poll survey had given the LDF a clear majority with some surveys predicting over 90 seats in the 140-member assembly for the LDF. However, in the final weeks the opposition United Democratic Front appeared to have covered much ground.
Make or break for BJP
This election is also a make or break poll for the BJP in Kerala, which had opened its account in the last assembly elections by winning a single seat, the Nemom constituency. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said voters would ensure that the BJP’s account in Nemom would be closed this year.
At Nemom, BJP candidate Kummanam Rajasekharan is pitted against Congress leader and former chief minister K. Karunakaran’s son, K. Muraleedharan.
Underlining the importance BJP is giving to a stronger presence in Kerala, every senior leader of the party including party president J.P. Nadda, prime minister Narendra Modi and federal home minster Amit Shah had all campaigned in the staste.
A few polling related malpractices were reported from different parts of Kerala on Tuesday.
At the Ambalappuzha constituency in Alappuzha district, a man attempted to cast a vote wearing a helmet but was caught by alert polling officials. The man introduced himself as Suresh Kumar and refused to remove his helmet when officials asked him to. Poll booth officials said the real Suresh Kumar had already cast his vote.
The man, however, managed to leave the spot quickly before police or polling officials at the booth could apprehend him.
In another constituency, there was a complaint of a voter finding out that his vote had already been cast by someone else through the postal voting mode.