Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 8 (IANS) Contrary to fears that the Covid pandemic would keep away the voters from the polling booths, at the end of the Phase-1 local body polls held on Tuesday in five southern districts, the turnout surprised everybody. According to the preliminary figures released by the State Election Commission, there was a 74 per cent turnout.
The polling percentage in Thiruvananthapuram was 69 per cent, Kollam (73), Pathanamthitta (69), Alappuzha (76), and Idukki (74).
Polling began at 7 a.m. to decide the fate of 24,584 candidates. It ended at 6 p.m. except for a few places.
Another highlight of the day was Covid positive patients and those in isolation coming to vote after 5 p.m., wearing PPE kits. At that time, the polling officials inside the booth also had to wear PPE kits.
Five central districts will go to the polls on December 10 and four northern districts on December 14. Counting of votes will take place on December 16.
Across the five districts, polling for panchayats, municipalities and corporations was brisk though no big queues were seen. In the hilly district of Idukki, the turnout came as a surprise to many.
At Ranni in Pathanamthitta district, the grandfather of a panchayat election candidate collapsed and passed away soon after he cast his vote. He was identified as 90-year-old P Mathai.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala cast his vote along with his family members at his home town in Alappuzha and claimed that the fate of the Pinarayi Vijayan government would be sealed.
“We (UDF) are going to score a big win as the people of Kerala will hand us victory. The BJP as always will make no impact. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is in hiding and has to break his silence on those involved in the gold smuggling case. The way is now clear for the return of UDF rule in the next Assembly elections,” said Chennithala.
Soon after casting her vote, Fisheries Minister and senior CPI-M leader J Mercykutty Amma said that it was very clear that the people will give a verdict in favour of a government that cared. “Neither the Congress nor the BJP will make any impact as we are going to win,” said Amma.
The principal contestants include candidates from the three major political fronts — the LDF led by the CPI-M, the Congress-led UDF, and the BJP-led NDA.
Across the state, in the 2015 local body polls, the Left won around 60 per cent of the total seats, followed by the Congress, while the BJP won a mere 1,200 seats out of around 21,000 seats in three tiers of local bodies.
Across the five districts, 11,225 polling stations had been set up for the electorate that includes 41,58,341 men, 46,68,209 women and 70 transgenders. The election process is being overseen by 56,122 officials.