70% turnout in Kerala polls

70% turnout in Kerala polls

Thiruvananthapuram: An estimated 70% of voters in Kerala exercised their franchise as polling ended peacefully in all the 140 assembly constituencies on Wednesday evening.

The battle to gain power is keenly fought between ruling LDF and Congress-led UDF with BJP making the contest a three-cornered one in at least two seats.

According to officials, the final voter turnout would exceed 70%.

Kerala has 2.31 crore voters.

In all, 971 candidates are in fray, including Independents.

A constable on duty in a booth at Kadakkal in Kollam district collapsed and died while voting was on. No major incidents of violence or malpractices were reported from anywhere, police said.

In the LDF, lead partner CPI-M is contesting in 93 seats, CPI (27), JD-S (5), RSP, NCP (4 each), Kerala Congress, INL (3 each) and Congress-S (1).

In the UDF, Congress has fielded 82 candidates followed by IUML (24), KC-M (15), SJD (6), JSS (4), KC-J, CMP (3 each), KC-B (2) and RSP-B (1).

Key players include chief minister and CPI-M veteran V S Acuthanandan , seeking mandate from the Left bastion Malampuzha in Palakkad district for the third time. UDF’s chief ministerial probable Oommen Chandy is back in Puthuppally in Kottayam, from where he has won nine times in a row.

Kerala PCC president Ramesh Chennithala is contesting for the assembly after a long gap from his home turf Harippad in Alappuzha and late K Karunakaran’s son K Muraleedharan is seeking election from Vattiurkavu.

Besides Achuthanandan, 14 ministers are seeking fresh mandate, eight from CPI-M, two from CPI, one each from RSP, Congress-S, Janata Dal-S and Kerala Congress (Thomas).

BJP is pinning its hopes on senior leader O Rajagopal, contesting in Nemom to open its account in the assembly.