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Fronts pin hope on large voter turnout

Special Correspondent
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Over 1.58 lakh people vote in Piravom bypoll, day passes peacefully

On a day when the electorate turned out in strength at Piravom to exercise their franchise, the major candidates in the fray interpreted it to be positive and favourable.

(The turnout was put at 86.3 per cent, the highest ever polling percentage since it was formed in 1977).

“The high polling percentage is certainly favourable to me,” United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate Anoop Jacob told mediapersons. “Though I will not speculate on the margin, I tell you I will win with a comfortable majority.”

Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate M.J. Jacob interpreted the large turnout as very positive and favourable to him. He said barring a couple of panchayats, he would get majority votes in all the others. Senior LDF leaders such as V.S. Achuthanandan also said the voters' verdict was in favour of that front.

While rewriting the electoral history of Piravom, the voters also made sure that the polling was conducted peacefully. No election-related incidents of violence were reported from the constituency.

At 86.3 per cent, the polling percentage crossed the 1985 figure of 85.45. This meant that barring the seriously ill and the thousands who were away, almost every voter in the constituency showed up at the 134 polling stations.

“We made sure that everyone who is not bedridden and who is fully conscious was there at the polling booth,” an LDF activist who went around his neighbourhood in Edakkatttuvayal panchayat to goad people to vote, told The Hindu . “Even before I reached the houses in the morning, most of the people were ready to go.”

Edakkattuvayal recorded the third highest polling percentage (88.3), while Maneed topped the chart with 89.5 percent and Thirumarady — the home panchayat of both Anoop Jacob and M.J. Jacob — came second with 88.5 percent. Elanji scored the lowest — 82.5 per cent.

The high polling percentages have put the activists of both the fronts in celebration mode though they will have to wait until Wednesday for the election result. Of the 1.83 voters, over 1.58 lakh chose to use their franchise in one of the most bitterly fought electoral battles in Kerala. In the 2011 Assembly election, 79.08 per cent had voted. This time there was rise of nearly 20,000 voters.

The high voter turnout indicates that has been a clear political polarisation in the constituency and that the people of Piravom, ignored their religious, caste or other differences to vote for the front of their choice.

It is also a reflection of the efforts taken by the senior leaders of both the fronts to woo voters. Top leaders of almost all the political parties in the State had campaigned in the constituency during the nearly five-month long electioneering.

CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan had camped in the constituency for four days together in the last lap of the electioneering. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who addressed several campaign meetings, chose to go on a ‘roadshow' for a full day across the constituency just a day before the campaigning closed. More than a dozen Ministers had spent lot of their time in the constituency, apart from several MPs and MLAs.

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