THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala has cast its vote to elect its 15th Legislative Assembly. Braving Covid-19, voters across the state lined up at polling booths to cast their franchise to record an average voter turnout of 74.02% on Tuesday. In 2016, the voter turnout was 77.35%.
Even as the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) expressed confidence in retaining power with a comfortable majority, the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) camp is elated. Going by the UDF assessment after the polls, the front should win anything between 75-85 seats. The BJP hopes to make its presence count with an authentic victory in 5-7 seats in addition to coming second in more than 10 seats.
On a day when the Sabarimala issue dominated the state's political discourse, the LDF and UDF traded charges over whom Lord Ayyappa would support during polling. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan claimed Lord Ayyappa and all other gods would stand with the LDF who were there for the masses, to which Congress veteran AK Antony retorted that the Chief Minister should first apologise to Lord Ayyappa for the Sabarimala fiasco.
The state also witnessed isolated incidents of violence in some pockets including Kazhakoottam where CPM-BJP clashes were reported, with BJP candidate Sobha Surendran staging a sit-in and Left candidate and Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran flayed the cops.
Two aged people collapsed and died at Alappuzha and Palakkad districts. Incidents of EVM complaints were reported from various pockets.
In many closely-watched constituencies, the poll percentage remained relatively low with BJP's lone sitting seat Nemom recording 69.80% compared to 74.11% in 2016. Speaking after the polling, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala exuded confidence that the UDF will come back to power with an iconic victory.
"The general sentiment among voters across the state indicate that the masses have exercised their franchise against the Left government. The publicity campaigns have not come in support of the Left," said Chennithala who alleged that sensing defeat Left cadres had unleashed violence against UDF workers
across the state.
The Left leadership however rejected the opposition claims and is confident of 85 seats or more. "The Left is sure of winning at least 85 seats. The extent of victory would be known only after careful analysis of the Left wave that rolled all through polling," said CPM Politburo member S Ramachandran Pillai. The CPM
also suspects cross-voting between the UDF and BJP in a few constituencies like Guruvayoor.
Though the BJP camp is yet to make a final assessment, as per initial observations the party is confident of winning at least 5-7 seats.