73.70 percent voting in Kerala
Kerala saw at least 73.70 percent of its 24.2 million voters turning out Thursday to elect 20 Lok Sabha members from the state.
Poll officials said the figure is provisional and accounts for votes polled only until 6 p.m. The actual tally of votes is expected to rise further.
In 2009, Kerala polled 73.37 per cent votes.
Voters showed great enthusiasm especially during the early part of Thursday, queuing up at polling stations even before the first ballot was cast.
Officials say that many more of Kerala's 24.2 million voters would have come out to cast their ballot, if it weren't for the rains which lashed across parts of the state towards evening.
Barring a few skirmishes, voting by and large ended on a positive note with state Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala expressing his thanks to all the political parties and the people for maintaining a high level of discipline.
Of the 20 Lok Sabha seats that are up for grabs in Kerala, Vadakara seat represented by union Minister of State for Home Mullapally Ramachandran recorded the highest turnout of 81.40 percent, closely followed by Kannur with 80.90 percent.
The least turnout was recorded at the Pathanamthitta constituency - 65.80 percent.
The Thiruvananthapuram constituency, which has conventionally seen the lowest voting percentage witnessed 68.60 percent polling, up from 65.74 percent in 2009.
The 269 candidates in the fray included 27 women.
In Kerala, the fight is mainly between the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the CPI-M led Left Democratic Front (LDF). Leaders of the both rival fronts have claimed victory because of the high turnout.
In the 2009 elections, UDF won 16 seats while the LDF won four.
Speaking to IANS, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that whenever the voter turnout is high, his party and the UDF benefits directly.
"We have no doubt. We will do extremely well, you just wait and see," said Chandy.
On the other hand, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state secretary Pinnarayi Vijayan predicts that the huge turnout means that the UDF is heading for its worst-ever rout.
"We expect that 2004 will repeat (LDF had won 18 seats that year) as people are fed up with both the central and state governments," said Vijayan.
In the State capital, which is witnessing a keen triangular contest, BJP candidate and veteran leader O. Rajagopal appears confident that this time the lotus will finally bloom in Kerala.
"The Congress is going to become history and you wait and see the outcome here," said Rajagopal, whose campaign got a shot in the arm after senior party leader L.K. Advani canvassed for him on the last day of the campaign here.
(Posted on 10-04-2014)