First phase of local body polls begins in Kerala

The first phase of the three-tier local body polls began on a peaceful note in five districts of Kerala on Tuesday with the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, Congress-headed UDF and BJP-NDA locking horns in majority of wards.

Thiruvananthapuram: The first phase of the three-tier local body polls began on a peaceful note in five districts of Kerala on Tuesday with the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, Congress-headed UDF and BJP-NDA locking horns in majority of wards.

A total of 24,583 candidates are in the fray, trying their electoral luck in 6,910 wards of 395 local bodies in the districts-Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Idukki.

Two Corporations- Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam, 20 municipalities, 318 village panchayats, 50 block panchayats and 5 district panchayats are among the local bodies where the first phase polling is being held.

According to official update, 7.53 per cent polling was recorded in the five districts at 8.45 am.

Of this, Thiruvananthapuram registered 6.97 per cent polling, while Kollam 7.67 per cent, Pathanamthitta 8.13 per cent, Alappuzha 7.90 per cent and Idukki 7.2 per cent by the time.

Polling was generally peaceful in all the five districts in the initial hours and no untoward incident was reported anywhere.

Braving rains, long queues of voters including women could be seen in many wards of Thiruvananthapuram in the initial hours since the voting began on 7.00 am.

Cutting across villages and cities, voters could be seen wearing masks and maintaining social distance adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

Mathayi, a 90-year-old voter collapsed and died soon after casting his vote at Ranni in Pathanamthitta district.

Voters, who have tested positive for the viral infection or those placed under quarantine after 3.00 pm on Monday, would be allowed to cast votes in their respective booths in the evening after all the voters have exercised their franchise, official sources said.

Ministers Kadakampally Surendran and A C Moideen on Tuesday expressed confidence about the LDF victory.

“The recent controversies will not make any impact on the winning prospects of the ruling front,” Moideen said.

However, opposition Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said the poll results would be a referendum of the four and half year rule of the Pinarayi Vijayan government.

Former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan asserted that the BJP would emerge victorious in the civic body polls.

According to the latest figures released by the state Election Commission (SEC), a total of 88, 26,873 voters including 46,68,267 women and 61 transgenders are there in the five districts.

The total voters also include 150 NRI voters and 42,530 maiden voters, they said.

Of the 11,225 polling booths, 320 were identified as sensitive booths and webcasting facility was arranged there, SEC officials added.

This time, the civic body polls have gained more significance as its result is generally considered to reflect the political mindset of the southern state which would go to Assembly elections after some months.

All the three traditional fronts including LDF, UDF and BJP-NDA have exuded confidence about their victory.

The ruling CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF)’s prime focus during the campaign was the achievements under the four and half-year Vijayan government.

The opposition Congress-led UDF highlighted the controversies relating to the gold smuggling case, the alleged corruption in the Life Mission project and the charges levelled against the Chief Minister’s office during the campaign.

However, the vigilance cases against various UDF leaders and the arrest of its MLAs V K Ibrahim Kunju and M C Kamaruddin in corruption cases were seen as a setback for them.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which is trying everything in its means to find a place in the bipolar polity led by LDF and UDF for decades, is pinning hopes on various development programmes initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.

The present polls is a prestigious fight for the saffron party and its leadership, as they had to repeat its impressive performance in various districts last time.

While the second phase of the elections in Ernakulam, Kottayam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad would be held on December 10 and the third phase in four districts– Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod would be on December 14.

The counting would be held on December 16.

source: PTI

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