Brisk polling waswitnessed in various places in Kerala on Tuesday with 48.71percent of 2.74 crore electorate having already cast theirvote by noon in the assembly elections being held under theshadow of COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the soaring temperatures, long queues were seenin various constituencies with men accounting for over 50 percent of the total votes polled till noon.
As many as 46.81 per cent women and 20.06 transgendervoters have also exercised their franchise.
Taliparamba, Dharmadam, Aroor, Chertala, Wadakkancheryand Karunagapally constituencies reported heavy polling.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (Dharmadam) Oppositionleader, Ramesh Chennithala (Haripad), Senior Congress leaderOommen Chandy (Puthupally), BJP state president K Surendran(Konni and Manjeswaram) and Metro Man E Sreedharan,(Palakkad) were among those who had voted before noon.
According to the Election commission figures, about 48.71per cent polling was recorded by 1.30 pm, six hours afterpolling commenced at 7am for the 140 seats.
Mohammed Ashraff Kalathil, a presiding officer of a boothin Payyanur constituency in Kannur was hospitalised afterbeing allegedly attacked by CPI(M) activists as he prevented aman who had come to vote with his ration card.
The voting was held up for half an hour and anotherofficer appointed while Kalathil was shifted to the hospital.
In another incident, UDF candidate in Andoor, AbdulRaheed, in Kannur was allegedly manhandled by marxist workers.
A 65-year-old man and a 75-year-old woman standing in thequeue to vote at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district andChavittuvary in Kottayam respectively collapsed and died.
The state had witnessed a fierce campaign in the run upto the polls by the ruling CPI(M) led Left Democratic Front(LDF), Opposition Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF)and the BJP led NDA.
Talking to reporters after casting his vote, ChiefMinister Vijayan expressed confidence that the LDF would bevoted back to power.
“I have full faith in the people, who are with the left,”he said adding the front would get more seats than it had wonin the 2016 assembly polls, thus registering a historicalwin.
The BJP account in Nemom, the solitary seat won by thesaffron party in the 2016 polls, will be closed, he said.
On the polling day also, sparks flew over the Sabarimalaissue with the LDF and UDF locking horns.
Vijayan said the devotees of Lord Ayyappa and all othergods will be with the LDF.
Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala opined that bhaktaswill not forgive the left front, which will face the wrath ofLord Ayyappa as CWC member, A K Antony, sought the CMsapology.
Kerala had witnessed violent protests by activists of BJPand Right wing outfits after the LDF government decided toimplement the 2018 Supreme court verdict allowing women of allage groups to offer prayers at the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappaat Sabarimala, where traditionally women in the menstrual agegroup of 10-50 are banned from worshipping.
Besides Vijayan, 11 of his cabinet colleagues are amongthe 957 candidates in fray in the state.
The voting for Malappuram Lok Sabha bypoll, necessitatedby the resignation of P K Kunhalikutty, who is contesting tothe state assembly, is also being held.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)