Thiruvananthapuram, April 10: A little over half of Kerala’s 24.2 million-plus voters cast their ballot half way through Thursday for the state’s 20 Lok Sabha seats, even as both the rival alliances led by the Congress and the Left claimed they will emerge victorious.
Brisk voting was reported across the 20 Lok Sabha constituencies, with over 51.6 percent of the electorate casting their ballot half way through the day.
In 2009, Kerala recorded 73.37 percent turnout. Election experts have predicted that by the close of the day, Kerala could well reach an all-time high of around 80 percent voting or more.
Kannur constituency recorded the highest turnout, crossing the 56 percent mark, while Thiruvananthapuram recorded the lowest voting at 47 percent.
Voters will choose their representatives from 242 male and 27 females candidates.
The fight is mainly between the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the CPI-M led Left Democratic Front (LDF).
In 2009, the UDF won 16 seats while the LDF won four.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told IANS that whenever the voter turnout is high, his party and the UDF benefits directly.
“We have no doubt. We will do extremely well, you just wait and see,” he said.
On the other hand, CPI-M state secretary Pinnarayi Vijayan predicted that the huge turnout meant that the Congress-led front was heading for its worst rout.
“We expect that 2004 will be repeated (LDF had won 18 seats that year) as people are fed up with both the central and state governments,” said Vijayan.
In the state capital, which is witnessing a triangular contest, BJP candidate and veteran leader O. Rajagopal appeared confident that the ‘lotus’ – the party’s symbol – will finally bloom in Kerala.
“The Congress is going to become history,” said Rajagopal, whose campaign got a shot in the arm after senior BJP leader L.K. Advani canvassed for him.
Election officials have identified 10 percent of the total 21,424 polling booths as critical – most of them in Kannur, Kozhikode and Kasargode districts.
By and large, voting passed off peacefully, with no major skirmishes reported.