The electorate in Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Kannur assembly constituencies erased previous voting percentage records by turning out in large numbers to cast their votes in the by-elections held in the three seats on Saturday.
According to official figures, 72 per cent of the voters in the three constituencies exercised their franchise, with Kannur registering an all-time 79.06 per cent. Alappuzha registered 72 per cent, while Ernakulam shrugged off voter apathy witnessed in recent years to poll 64.64 per cent when reports last came in. The voting percentage could go up by a few percentage points once the final figures are tabulated and officially released.
The polling in Kannur was astonishingly peaceful and incident-free, considering the fact that the constituency was the fulcrum of the by-election battle that witnessed eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress. The high profile presence of Central forces and the security arrangements inside and outside the polling booths did have its effect on the atmosphere in Kannur on polling day, as could be seen from the long queues in at least 11 booths even after 5 p.m. when polling was supposed to have ended. Electoral officers did their jobs according to the rule book, checking the credentials of newly enrolled voters, who were allowed to cast their votes after biometric fingerprinting. Polling was held under the watchful eyes of a battalion from the Karnataka police force.
In Alappuzha, polling was held with clock work precision, despite a few bouts of minor scuffles being reported in certain areas. Inclement weather did not prevent voters from turning up at polling booths to cast their votes. The coastal areas of Alappuzha witnessed heavy polling.
Ernakulam too witnessed peaceful polling in the 137 polling booths in the constituency. For political parties that have being battling voter apathy in the Ernakulam assembly and parliamentary seats which have witnessed more by-elections in the last ten years, higher voting percentage was good news.
Voters in urban segments in the constituency turned out in large numbers to cast their votes contrary to expectations.
The LDF and the UDF expressed optimism about the outcome of the by-election, with the leaders making claims and counter claims. The LDF convener Vaikkom Vishwan said that the polling percentage indicated that people had responded well to the welfare measures of the LDF Government. The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithla said his party will win the three seats with a comfortable margin. The deployment of Central forces in Kannur had ensured free and fair elections and infused voter confidence prompting them to turn out in large numbers, he said.