The elections to three Rajya Sabha vacancies from the State will be held on Monday. As four candidates are contesting, the MLAs will have to cast their votes. Polling is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) has fielded P.J. Kurien of the Congress and Joy Abraham of the Kerala Congress(M), while the Left Democratic Front (LDF) has fielded C.P. Narayanan of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and C.N. Chandran of the Communist Party of India.

Given their current strengths in the Assembly, the ruling front can win two seats and the Opposition one in the elections on the basis of the single transferable vote system.

The LDF has nominated Mr. Narayanan as its first choice. With the UDF finalising the method of voting, the only advantage that the LDF may get by fielding its second candidate is to ensure that 31 of its first preference votes are not wasted.

This will be polled in favour of the CPI candidate. The Opposition cannot bank on cross-voting owing to the amendment to the Representation of the People Act in relation to voting in the Rajya Sabha elections.

The 2004 amendment nullified secret balloting in the election to the Upper House and the issue of whips. Voters are required to disclose their voting preferences to their party agents.

Besides, there is hardly any major political division in the UDF that can lead to cross-voting.

The UDF joint legislature party meeting met late on Sunday evening to give final shape to the coalition’s strategy for the elections.

It has been decided that 37 Congress members will poll their first preference votes in favour of Prof. Kurien.

Chandy’s vote

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, in a symbolic gesture, will cast his first preference vote in favour of Mr. Abraham.

In the second preference votes, 37 Congress members will favour Mr. Abraham and the 36 other members Prof. Kurien. This is to prevent any outside chance of the LDF’s second candidate getting an opening on the basis of second preference votes.

The UDF also decided to utilise the services of its party agents to foreclose any possibilities of a goof-up.

The meeting, sources said, witnessed a rehearsal of polling to ensure that the MLAs get their act right.

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