Polling gets underway in Kerala. The high voting percentage has been interpreted as advantageous by all parties. UDF claims that it indicates an appetite for change, while LDF claims that it is a seal of approval for their past five years of governance.
As per the official figures, the polling percentage stood at 37.23% at 12 noon. As any as 34.86% of female voters, 39.75% of the male electors and 8.99% of the transgender voters have exercised their franchise.
Kerala had witnessed a fierce campaign in the run up to the polls by the ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP-led NDA.
Here are the latest updates:
Polling officer assaulted at a booth in Payyannur constituency
Communist Party of India (Marxist) members allegedly assaulted the presiding officer at booth 105A of Payyannur Kandankali school, on Monday.
Mohammad Ashraf Kalathil, a native of Panoor and a professor at DIA College, Thalassery was allegedly assaulted.
The presiding officer did not allow the voter who came to vote with the ration card The assault took place during the same ensuing walkout. Presiding said that voting was not allowed due to non-availability of ration card in the identity documents issued by the Election Commission.
Polling was suspended for half an hour following the incident. The battered presiding officer sought treatment at Payyannur Taluk Hospital. The election resumed here after replacing him with another officer.
A complaint has been lodged with the Election Commission.
With just three more hours left for polling to end, more than 60% of the electorate in Kerala have exercised their franchise. As per the official update, the polling percentage stood at 63.62% at 4 p.m.
Thiruvananthapuram (61.10%), Kollam (63.71%), Alappuzha (62.93%), Pathanamthitta (56.6%), Kottayam (60.1%), Idukki (58.2%), Ernakulam (65%), Thrissur (63.55%), Palakkad (63.10%) Malappuram (57.7%), Kozhikode (65%), Wayanad (59.9%), Kannur (64.68%) and Kasaragod (60%).
Thiruvananthapuram district recorded 55.18% polling by 3.20 p.m.
The polling percentage is highest in Aruvikkara (57.69%), Kazhakootam (57.13%), Nemom (56.65%), Vamanapuram (56.97%), Nedumangad (56.73%), Kattakada (56.41%), Attingal (56.15%) and Parassala (56.13%).
The Thiruvananthapuram segment, where Congress MLA V. S. Sivakumar is taking on LDF's Antony Raju and BJP's Krishnakumar G. is behind in voter turnout, with only 48.72% of the total votes polled so far.
The polling percentage in the remaining segments are as follows; Varkala (53.65%), Chirayinkeezhu (54.33%), Vattiyoorkavu (52.55%), Kovalam (54.03%) and Neyyatinkara (54.98%).
100% polling here!
Polling officials are idle at a tiny polling booth in Kunnathunad, where the day's work is complete after a total of five people have voted.
The booth is set up at a leprosarium run by the Salvation Army, off the Kochi-Dhanushkodi highway.
Four residents of the leprosarium and one member of the administrative staff cast their vote in the morning.
Arrangements were made for a separate booth at the leprosarium when there were over 200 people housed at the facility.
Since then, several residents have either moved out or passed away, said presiding officer Annie Roby.
The polling percentage has crossed 50% in Kunnathunad with 54.96% of voters casting their vote. - Abhinaya Hargovind
A section of Chellanam residents boycott polls
Joyce Babu, a housewife from Kannamali along the coastal belt of Kochi Assembly constituency, was among those who have chosen to boycott this election as a mark of protest under the aegis of Kochi Chellanam Janakeeya Vedhi.
And the reason for her boycott could be seen right next to her house along a fully collapsed seawall that hardly serves the purpose of keeping marauding sea waves from surging into the households in the neighbourhood during every high tide.
"All political parties have shared power but have failed to offer us any respite from our nightmare. All they have given us over the years have been empty promises. Why should we even bother to vote for people who don't care for us," said 55-year-old Ms. Babu who has been living there for 25 years now.
UDF will safeguard faith of all sections: Thangal
Indian Union Muslim League national chairman and State president Sayed Hyderali Shihab Thangal criticized the Left Democratic Front (LDF) for “making incursions on people’s beliefs and religious customs.”
In a statement issued after casting his vote here on Tuesday, Mr. Thangal said that all sections of people had their own right of religious faith and custom. “The LDF incursions on those beliefs and customs cannot be agreed.” - Abdul Lateef Naha
LDF will return to power with huge majority: Public Works Minister G. Sudhakaran
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) will return to power in the State with a huge majority, Public Works G. Sudhakaran said.
He was speaking to reporters after casting his vote at a polling booth at Paravoor in Alappuzha.
On the Sabarimala temple issue, he said, "It is a matter of freedom of conscience. Don't make any pressure on conscience. That is against the freedom of mind."
BJP seconds NSS stance on Sabarimala
The Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) has welcomed NSS general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair's purported statement that Kerala direly needed a government that stood for values and beliefs.
BJP State president K. Surendran said in Kasargode that Mr. Nair had given a clear message to the people. He had urged them to back those who had sacrificed much to defend the Sabarimala faith. The Narendra Modi government had extended reservation in government employment and education to the indigent among forward communities.
Mr. Surendran said Congress veterans A. K. Antony and Oommen Chandy were weeping crocodile tears for Sabarimala devotees.
45% polling in Malappuram
Malappuram district registered 45.72 per cent polling in six hours since voting began at 7 a.m. When 7.54 lakh men cast their votes, 7.37 lakh women reached the polling booths till 1 p.m.
When Tanur witnessed the highest polling percentage (50.01 %), Vengara (38.88 %) saw the lowest. One of the fiercest fights in Malappuram district is taking place in Tanur, where Muslim Youth League State general secretary P.K. Firos is pitted against LDF incumbent V. Abdurahiman.
Indian Union Muslim League national general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty is contesting from Vengara, which he had quit in 2017 to contest to the Lok Sabha. - Abdul Latheef Naha
The polling percentage in Kollam touched 47.77% at 1.10 pm. In Karungapally assembly segment it crossed 50% and the voter turnout at other constituencies is as follows:Chavara (47.81), Punalur(46.09), Chadayamangalam(47.35.48), Kundara (48.07), Kollam (46.92), Pathanapuram(48.93), Kottarakara(49.18), Kunnathur (47.86), Eravipuram (45.49) and Chathannoor (46.78). - Navamy Sudhish
50% polling in Kozhikode
About 50 of the voters in Kozhikode district exercised their franchise in the first six hours of polling for the Assembly elections on Tuesday.
The following are the segment wise polling percentage till 1 p.m
Balan complains to EC against Chennithala, Sukumaran Nair
Minister for the Welfare of Backward and Scheduled Communities A.K. Balan has complained to the Election Commission against Nair Service Society (NSS) general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala for their alleged attempts to describe the election as a “fight between the faithful and non-believers”.
In his complaint addressed to the State’s Chief Election Officer, Mr. Balan accused the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of misusing the election in the name of faith and religion. “Kerala’s electoral history never witnessed such a grave and dangerous situation,” said Mr. Balan.
Mr. Balan also complained against Mr. Chennithala for his remarks that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan would have to face Lord Ayyappa’s wrath. “Those statements are against the Constitution, and completely in violation of the country’s democratic values,” Mr. Balan said. - Abdul Latheef Naha
42% polling in Piravom
Piravom Assembly constituency recorded a 42.19% polling by noon.
Of the 2,11,861 voters,89386 exercised their franchises. Though the voting started on a tepid note in all the booths in the morning, it gained momentum by noon.
While 45.53% of the men and 39.05% women cast their votes in the constituency till noon. A transgender also voted in one of the booths.Besides, the five sensitive booths near Irumpanam also saw brisk voting. - K.C. Gopakumar
NSS says Ayyappa devotees bitter about events at Sabarimala
Nair Service Society (NSS) general secretary, G. Sukumaran Nair, on Tuesday, said Sabarimala Ayyappa devotees were still bitter about the events that hurt their faith.
Speaking to reporters after voting in Kottayam, Mr. Nair said the people expected a change for the good. There should be a government that stood for values and faith.
Law Minister A. K. Balan said the 2021 Assembly elections was not a contest between believers and non-believers. Such a conclusion was reductive, he said, adding that there were more significant issues at stake. "I have not heard the NSS general secretary. It is unlikely he will make such a statement", he said.
Sabarimala appeared to dominate the political narrative even on poll day. The emotive issue was the central plank of the Congress and Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) campaigns.
Mammootty votes in Ponnurunni
There was a heated exchange of worlds between a group of BJP supporters and the police over allowing news photographers to take pictures of actor Mammootty who had come to cast his vote at the CKC LP School in Ponnurunni. The actor did not meet news persons, who were at the voting booth. The incident took place around 11.30 a.m. at the LP school booth (Booth 63 A) but was resolved quickly without any disruption in the voting. - K. Martin
Thiruvananthapuram witnesses high turnout
Thiruvananthapuram district, where some of the tightest contests are on, continues to witness heavy voter turnout. The district is locked in a three-cornered battle in constituencies like Nemom and Kazhakootam.
In the first four hours, the district recorded 30.02% voter turnout, with 13.40 lakh voters casting their vote. The district has a liitle over 28.19 lakh voters in 14 Assembly constituencies. Kazhakootam, where CPI(M) Minister Kadakampally Surendran is fighting BJP's Shobha Surendran and Congress's S. S. Lal, recorded 30.49% polling by 11.15 a.m.
Nemom, where a triangular contest is on between Congress's K. Muraleedharan MP, BJP's Kummanam Rajasekharan and CPI(M) V. Sivankutty, clocked 29.3%. Polling is relatively sluggish in Varkala and the Thiruvananthapuram segments. The polling percentage for the other segments are Varkala (22.22), Attingal (29.48), Chirayinkeezhu (27.08), Nedumangad (28.22), Vamanapuram (28.51), Vattiyoorkavu (27.56), Thiruvananthapuram (23.61), Aruvikkara (28.53), Parassala (28.11), Kattakada (29.28), Kovalam (31.18), and Neyyatinkara (31.23).
Voting, a right and a privilege
Tender votes cast in Pullur
Two voters registered tender votes after they found that their votes have been polled through postal voting at Pullur in the Uduma constituency in Kasaragod. Both K. Mithun, 22, and N. Nikhila, 23, are voting for the first time in the Assembly election. They were both unaware that their names were included in the postal voter's list, and realized that their votes have been polled on reaching the polling booth number 172.
Mr. Mithun said that his name was added to the postal voter's list without his knowledge.
On election officer's request, the duo agreed to cast a tender vote.
According to Section 49P of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, if a voter realises that someone has already voted in her name, she can approach the presiding officer at the polling booth and flag the issue. Upon answering the presiding officer’s questions about her identity satisfactorily, the voter will be allowed to cast a tender vote. Tender votes are cast on ballot papers and sealed and locked away. These votes are useful when the margin between the winning candidate and the runner-up is slim. However, if the difference is large, tender votes are not counted.
33% turnout in Ernakulam district
A total of 33% of the electorate exercised their right to vote across the 14 constituencies in Ernakulam district till 11.15 a.m. on Tuesday.
Most number of voters (8,74,034 of 26,49340) voted in Thripunithura where the polling percentage was 35.5%. Lowest voter turnout in the district was in Kochi constituency where just 29.97% of voters voted until 11.15 a.m. Most number of women voters (32.1%) voted in Angamaly constituency while polling by male voters was highest (39.66%) in Thripunithura constituency.
Polling percentage in the remotely located Kurungotta island in Ernakulam was 47.5 by 11.15 a.m.
Polling picks up pace in Kunnathunad
In the Kunnathunad constituency, which is witnessing a four-cornered fight, 32.97% of voters have cast their vote a little over three hours after polling began.
Long queues were not visible in most booths in the morning, including the ones in Peringala and Njaralloor. Party workers attributed this to the fact that booths with a larger number of voters have been split to form auxiliary booths to avoid crowding and maintain COVID-19
LDF will retain power, says Thomas Isaac
People will vote for development and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) will retain power in the State, said Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac.
He was speaking to reporters after casting his vote at a polling booth in Alappuzha.
"Let the United Democratic Front raise the Sabarimala issue. Development is the key poll issue. The LDF is poised to retain power," Dr. Isaac said.
High voter turnout will benefit UDF, says Shashi Tharoor
Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday expressed confidence that the Congress-led United Democratic Front would come to power in Kerala.
"Past experience shows that a high voter turnout benefits the UDF. If the pace of polling sustains through the day, then UDF can be sure of a comfortable majority," he said.
"Too little, too late" was how Mr. Tharoor reacted to the controversy over Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's remark that the deities of the land would bless LDF.
Political animosity at bay
The road leading up to St. Thomas LPS at North Palluruthy, a polling booth in Kochi Assembly constituency, offered a refreshing sight with the political party booths of both the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) sitting cheek by jowl with little animosity among the respective party workers.
Usually, such booths set up on the polling day are separated by a fair distance with little interactions between the camps reflecting the intensity of the electoral battle underway. But not in this booth 86 of North Palluruthy where the UDF and LDF booths are set up right next to each other.
"We have been having this arrangement for decades now. Simply because we believe in different political ideologies does not mean that we have to be at each other's throat all the time. Elections come only every five years but we have to co-exist all the time," said P.G. Thampy, a LDF activist.
Delphin Antony, a Vongress worker in the UDF camp, could not agree more. "Elections here have always been peaceful since we all know that we have to see each other even after elections. Politics need not interfere with your personal relations," he said.
That camaraderie apart, the competition remains intense and neither side was willing to compromise for the victory of their respective candidates.
"UDF candidate Tony Chammany will make it through though Twenty20 may inflict some dent in its voter base in areas like Chellanam. But that should be more than made up through the votes we secure elsewhere," said Mr. Antony.
Mr. Thampy on his part was confident of LDF candidate and sitting MLA K.J. Maxy's victory though he said that the prediction that Twenty20 would eat into UDF vote alone could be a misplaced observation.
Neither side, interestingly, made any comment about the other apolitical outfit in the fray V4 People and its candidate Nipun Cherian.
Over 21% voter turnout in first 3 hours
Continuing the brisk pace of polling, Kerala has registered a voter turnout of 21.43% in the first three hours of the Assembly elections.
23.79% of male voters, 19.22% of women voters and 4.49% of transgender voters exercised their franchise by 10.30 a.m., according to official updates. The official updates on polling percentage from some of the districts are as follows:
Thiruvananthapuram (20.78), Kollam (16.6), Alappuzha (16.77), Pathanamthitta (23.75), Ernakulam (16.3), Thrissur (25.45), Malappuram (22.72), Kannur (18%) and Kasaragod (22.95).
Polling is likely to slow down a bit as the summer heat intensifies by noon. Polling in Kerala closes at 7 p.m. except in nine constituencies facing Left Wing Extremism threat where it will end at 6 p.m.
Kozhikode sees brisk polling with isolated incidents of EVM glitches
Brisk and peaceful voting was witnessed in Kozhikode district for the 13 Assembly seats since the polling began at 7 a.m. on Tuesday.
About 16% of the 25.58 lakh electorate in the district polled till 9.30 a.m.
Some Assembly segments such as Kozhikode North, Kozhikode South, Beypore and Kunnamangalam recorded over 17% of the votes. The urban segment of Kozhikode North recorded almost 18% of the votes.
There were reports of delayed voting in some booths due to technical glitches in the EVMs in Kozhikode South and Koyilandy segments.
Actor Dharmajan Bolgatty was prevented by CPIM supporters from entering a booth at Sivapuram in Balussery constituency.
Kerala sees 16.07% polling till 9.30 a.m.
Kerala continues to witnesss brisk voter turnout and as of 9.30 a.m., the State has recorded 16.07% polling. As many as 18.09% of male voters, 14.17% of the female voters and 3.46% of the transgender voters have exercised their franchise so far, according to official figures.
Kerala has an electorate of over 2.74 crore. Voting has been progressing peacefully although EVM/VVPAT glitches have been reported from a number of polling stations.
Pinarayi leans on religious metaphor to claim LDF would coast to victory
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said, arguably in a non-literal sense, that the deities of the land would bless the Left Democratic Front (LDF).
The government had stood with the people and succoured them during the catastrophic floods and later the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, seemingly metaphorically, that Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of Sabarimala temple, would favour the government because it had taken care of the people. Other religions also backed the ruling front, he said.
Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala mocked Mr. Vijayan for invoking the name of Lord Ayyappa. He said after voting in Haripad in Alappuzha that Mr. Vijayan had trampled on Ayyappa devotees’ faith. The Chief Minister would face “their wrath and the disfavour of the diety”. Mr. Vijayan stared at “sure defeat”. He was “fearful” and had “invoked Ayyappa out of sheer desperation”, Mr. Chennithala said.
UDF will form next government: Chennithala
People will vote for change and the United Democratic Front (UDF) will form the next government in the State, said Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala.
Mr. Chennithala, who is contesting from Haripad constituency, cast his vote at Mannarasala UP School in Haripad. He was accompanied by his wife and other family members.
"The LDF government is enmeshed in corruption. It has failed on all fronts. People expect a change. They want the UDF to come back to power. Lord Ayyappa and his devotees will not tolerate the LDF government's actions," he said. - Sam Paul A.
Expecting historic victory for LDF, says Pinarayi Vijayan
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that people of Kerala will present historic victory to LDF. He was responding to media after registering his vote at Pinarayi RC Amala School. He was accompanied by his wife Kamala to the polling booth.
Mr. Vijayan said this would be an election that will show the strength of the people. "There are many things that have been done to mislead the government. But as it was seen in the last local elections, the people have rejected the false allegation and misleading campaigns against the LDF government," he said.
Expressing his confidence, he said that people know what the LDF government has been doing since 2016. "The people were with the government for development and disaster relief. The people have lined up with the government for these five years," he said.
A snag in the EVM had Indian Union Muslim League Malappuram district president Sayed Sadikali Shihab Thangal waiting in Booth No. 95 at CKMLP.
A technical snag delayed the beginning of polling in the centre. The snag developed after election officials applied ink on Mr. Thangal’s finger. He was the first voter at the booth.
EVM snag in Tripunithura booth frustrates voters
Voting at booth 35A at SNVSUPS at Eroor in Tripunithura Assembly constituency was delayed by more than an hour after the Electronic Voting Machine developed a snag even before a single vote was cast.
Much to the frustration of voters in long queues, the EVM was replaced at around 8.15 a.m., after which voting started.
Voting picks up in Kizhakkambalam
Voting gradually picks up pace as queues grow at a green polling station in Kizhakkambalam of the Kunnathunad constituency, where the battle is tightened by the presence of Kitex-backed outfit Twenty20, in addition to the three fronts.
Two-time MLA V. P. Sajeendran, who is contesting as the UDF candidate for a third time from the constituency, voted from Aikaranad. The UDF is confident of retaining the seat since campaigning had focussed on cementing the front's existing support base in Kunnathunad, he said.
Over 7% voter turnout in the first hour of polling
Kerala districts are witnessing long queues outside polling stations after polling for the Assembly elections opened, with the State recording a polling percentage of 7.06% by 8.15 a.m.
Malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines were reported from a number of booths, but overall, voting has been progressing at a brisk pace across the State.
Meanwhile, several ministers and candidates of all three fronts cast their votes in the first hour. This includes Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, BJP State president K. Surendran, Metroman E. Sreedharan and IUML leader P. K. Kunhalikutty.
Electors who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are under quarantine will be permitted to vote in the final hour of polling. Kerala had recorded a polling percentage of 77.35% in the 2016 Assembly polls.
Heavy polling advantageous for LDF, says LDF candidate
M. Swaraj, the Left Democratic Front candidate contesting from Tripunithura Assembly constituency, said that the heavy polling being witnessed in the constituency is a reflection of people's desire for a return of the LDF government.
The cliched observation that greater voter turnout is advantageous for the UDF holds little value, said Mr. Swaraj who was returning to the constituency after casting his vote at his home district of Malappuram.
He said that the posters that appeared in the name of Sabarimala Karma Samithi on the eve of polling urging voters not to vote for BJP to defeat LDF has only substantiated the unholy nexus between UDF and BJP. It should be seen in the light of the UDF candidate K. Babu's claim that he will get the BJP votes. The Sabarimala Karma Samithi has denied having issued any such posters, which means that it was the handiwork of the UDF candidate, he said.
More than just an election...
Former Minister Babu casts his vote
Former Minister K. Babu, who is contesting from Tripunithura Assembly constituency, has cast his vote at Girls Higher Secondary School, Tripunithura. He exudes confidence of a victory and cites the heavy polling being witnessed as a favourable sign.
The allegations over unholy nexus with BJP and the sudden appearance of posters in the name of Sabarimala Karma Samithi will not in anyway hamper his prospects, says Mr. Babu.
Surendran casts his vote
BJP State president K. Surendran expressed confidence that BJP-led NDA will register a "massive victory" in the polls. He was speaking to reporters after casting his vote.
"Kerala is voting for a 'third alternative', and BJP-led NDA will register massive victory," he said. Mr. Surendran is contesting from Manjeshwar and Konni.
E. Sreedharan among early voters
'Metroman' E Sreedharan, who is the BJP-NDA candidate from Palakkad constituency was among the early voters in the State.
"I have cast my vote, have good expectations", he told reporters after excercising his franchise at a polling booth in Ponnani.
Brisk polling in Angamaly
Polling is brisk and more than 500 people in queue as polling started at 7 a.m. at the St. Anthony's school in Mattoor, Angamaly.
The polling station is a Green Zone with all polling officers following the green protocol. There is heavy presence of health workers instructing people to follow the COVID-19 protocol. Masks, sanitizer are visible everywhere.
Mock polls underway
Mock poll is underway at the polling stations in Kerala ahead of the single-phase Assembly elections to 140 constituencies. The exercise is being held in the presence of the booth agents of the candidates.
Actual polling will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. across the State, except in nine constituencies in three north Kerala districts where it will close at 6 p.m. on account of threat posed by Left Wing Extremism. - Tiki Rajwi
Police, CAPF deployed in full force in State, along borders
Security has been beefed up in the State in view of the Assembly elections on Tuesday.
Deployment of State police and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been completed and heightened vigil ensured along the State borders, State Police Chief Loknath Behera said. Ninety-five companies of the police have been deployed across the State in view of the polls.
Strict action against fake voters, warns EC
Attempts to cast multiple votes or impersonate another voter during the Assembly elections on Tuesday will attract stern action, election officials warned on Monday.
Such offences are punishable with imprisonment up to one year or a fine, or both, under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, they said.