Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala: An estimated 70 percent of voters in Kerala exercised their right to vote as polling concluded peacefully in all the 140 assembly constituencies this evening. The battle to gain power is keenly fought between ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) making the contest a three-cornered one in at least two seats.
According to officials, the final voter turnout would exceed 70 percent. 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 Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is contesting in 93 seats, CPI (27), Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) (5), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), National Communist Party (NCP) (4 each), Kerala Congress, Indian National League (INL) (three 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 (87), 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 to 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.
(With PTI inputs)