Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 6 (PTI) Brisk polling was witnessed in various places in Kerala on Tuesday with 52.41 percent of 2.74 crore electorate having already cast their vote by noon in the assembly elections being held under the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the soaring temperatures, long queues were seen in various constituencies with men accounting for 54.31 per cent of the total votes polled till 2 pm.
As many as 50.63 per cent women and 23.87 transgender voters have also exercised their franchise.
Taliparamba, Dharmadam, Aroor, Chertala, Wadakkanchery and Karunagapally constituencies reported heavy polling.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan (Dharmadam) Opposition leader, Ramesh Chennithala (Haripad), Senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy (Puthupally), BJP state president K Surendran (Konni and Manjeswaram) and ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan, (Palakkad) were among those who had voted before noon.
According to the Election commission, 52.41 per cent polling was recorded by 2 pm, seven hours after polling commenced at 7am for the 140 seats.
Mohammed Ashraff Kalathil, a presiding officer of a booth in Payyanur constituency in Kannur was hospitalised after being allegedly attacked by CPI(M) activists as he prevented a man who had come to vote with his ration card.
The voting was held up for half an hour and another officer appointed while Kalathil was shifted to the hospital.
In another incident, UDF candidate in Andoor, Abdul Raheed, in Kannur was allegedly manhandled by marxist workers.
A 65-year-old man and a 75-year-old woman standing in the queue to vote at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district and Chavittuvary in Kottayam respectively collapsed and died.
The state had witnessed a fierce campaign in the run up to the polls by the ruling CPI(M) led Left Democratic Front (LDF), Opposition Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP led NDA.
Talking to reporters after casting his vote, Chief Minister Vijayan expressed confidence that the LDF would be voted back to power.
“I have full faith in the people, who are with the left,” he said adding the front would get more seats than it had won in the 2016 assembly polls, thus registering a ‘historical’ win.
The BJP account in Nemom, the solitary seat won by the saffron party in the 2016 polls, will be ‘closed’, he said.
On the polling day also, sparks flew over the Sabarimala issue with the LDF and UDF locking horns.
Vijayan said the devotees of Lord Ayyappa and all other gods will be with the LDF.
Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala opined that bhaktas will not forgive the left front, which will face the wrath of Lord Ayyappa as CWC member, A K Antony, sought the CM’s apology.
Kerala had witnessed violent protests by activists of BJP and Right wing outfits after the LDF government decided to implement the 2018 Supreme court verdict allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala, where traditionally women in the menstrual age group of 10-50 are banned from worshipping.
Besides Vijayan, 11 of his cabinet colleagues are among the 957 candidates in fray in the state.
The voting for Malappuram Lok Sabha bypoll, necessitated by the resignation of P K Kunhalikutty, who is contesting to the state assembly, is also being held.