Tight Security Arrangements Restrict Celebrations at 'Ground Zero'
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Mar Ivanios Vidya Nagar here turned into a nerve centre of hectic activity on Friday as counting of votes for the Thiruvananthapuram and Attingal constituencies progressed in six buildings located inside the sprawling campus.
Cheers erupted among party workers as leads switched back and forth from O Rajagopal to Shashi Tharoor in their neck-and-neck battle for Thiruvananthapuram. The fate of Attingal constituency was all but sealed as CPM’s A Sampath surged ahead from the very start leaving behind UDF’s Bindu Krishna by a comfortable margin.
However, the heightened police security ensured that the celebrations at the counting centre remained a low-key affair. Party activists were not allowed entry past the main entrance of the campus and celebrations were barred at the counting centre.
Sampath, who was almost sure of a seat in the Lok Sabha from Attingal, was the only candidate who sat through the entire process of counting. The results unfolding on the big screens at the media centre and non-stop calls from well-wishers kept him busy.
Though Bennet Abraham made a one-off visit early in the morning, the main competitors in the Thiruvananthapuram constituency - eventual winner Tharoor and his challenger Rajagopal - stayed away. Instead, they took comfort in the cool confines of their homes and party offices and preferred to watch the drama unfold before TV screens. With the duo engaged in a tight contest, the Congress and BJP activists gathered at the main entrance and shouted slogans.
While BJP workers were shouting slogans on their party’s trouncing of the UPA at the Centre, Congress activists drew respite from the UDF’s comparatively better performance in Kerala.
The counting process stopped abruptly at noon when 95 per cent of the votes were counted and Tharoor led by around 7,000 votes. Meanwhile, a bunch of Congress activists were already breaking into a celebration, waving flags and wearing Tharoor masks.
CPM activists, who were rooting for Sampath, broke into slogans waving the red flags after he was declared winner.
The celebrations reached a feverish pitch as the victorious Sampath met party workers, who carried him on their shoulders.