Brisk voting in Kerala; tight security in place
Thiruvananthapuram: Voting began for all 20 Lok Sabha constituencies of Kerala on Tuesday in which Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam and two-time sitting MP Shashi Tharoor are key candidates.
Enthusiastic voters queued up at several booths even before 7 am when the polling officially began for the third phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.
Candidates P K Kunhalikutty (Malappuram), M K Premachandran (Kollam), Hibi Eden (Ernakulam) and Innocent (Chalakudy) were among the early voters.
Nine MLAs, 13 sitting MPs and two former party district secretaries, and two actors are contesting the polls in the state.
The three major fronts-- ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, Opposition Congress headed UDF and the BJP-NDA have nominated 6 women candidates.
A total of 227 candidates are in the fray, including 23 women in the 20 constituencies.
Wayanad constituency from where Rahul Gandhi is contesting, besides his pocket borough Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, has the maximum number of candidates-- 20 and the lowest are in Alathur in Palakkad district (6).
There are a total of 2.61 crore voters-- 1,26,81,992 males, 1,34,64,688 females and 173 third gender voters.
Largest number of voters are recorded at Malappuram district. Meanwhile, Wayanad has the least number of voters. A total of 24970, polling booths are arranged in the state for the polls.
The strength of first time voters in Kerala is 2.88 lakh in the age group of 18-19.
The polling will end at 6pm in the 24,970 polling stations.
A total of 57 company of central armed forces are deployed in the state for security.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and family arrived at RC Amala School in Kannur to cast vote around 7.45 in the morning.
Ministers, MLAs, film stars and other VIPs are expected to cast their vote in respective booths. Governor Justice P Sadasivam and wife Saraswathy Sadasivam cast their votes in Jawahar Nagar Govt. LP school. Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan cast vote at Perinthalmanna in Malappuram.
Film stars Mohanlal, Fahad Faasil and director Faasil arrived at polling booths to cast their votes early in the morning. They were spotted in the long queues at the booths.
The officials conducted mock poll prior to the voting in order to ensure there are no technical glitches in the machines. Meanwhile, technical glitches were found in some machines in various polling booths and the officials managed to resolve it.
This time, apart from the tight competition of LDF and UDF in the state, NDA candidates are also hoping to sweep the elections. All the fronts are running after the voters to take maximum number of voters to the polling booths. It is learnt that this will increase the voter turnout in the state.
Leaders to vote in these booths
VS Achuthanandan- Alappuzha Panayakulangara Govt.High School
AK Antony- Thiruvananthapuram Jagathy School
Kodiyeri Balakrishnan- Kodiyeri Junior Basic UP School
Kanam Rajendran –Kottayam Vazhoor Kanam Kochukanjirappara SVGLP School
PS Sreedgharan Pillai – Kozhikode Thiruthiyad Ashwas Kendra
Ramesh Chennithala – Alappuzha Thriperumthura Govt.HSS
KC Venugopal –Alappuzha Thiruvambady Higher Secondary School
VM Sudheeran – Kunnumkuzhi UPS
O Rajagopal – Jawahar Nagar LPS
V Muraleedharan –Kochulloor Devaswom office
(with added inputs from PTI)