Thiruvananthapuram: Keralites flocked to polling booths in large numbers early on Tuesday, in an assembly election that could even change the pattern of the Communists and the Congress party alternating in power in the state.
As early as 9.30 am, the polling percentage across the state had crossed 15 per cent, a strong indication that by end of the day, the polling percentage could hit a new record.
The strong early polling in the day is attributed to two key reasons. This is the first time that surveys have predicted that the ruling Left Democratic Front will retain power, a situation that has not happened in more than four decades in Kerala where the LDF and the Congress-led United Democratic Front have alternated in power every five years.
The other reason for the larger number of voters exercising franchise is attributed to the significant numbers of Keralites who are now at home, either because their companies have shifted to the work-from-home mode, or they have lost jobs and come home.
This is also the first time that the Bharatiya Janata Party is expecting to make a significant presence in Kerala, having opened its account with a single seat in the 140-member house in 2016.
Every top leader in the BJP from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and federal Home Minister Amit Shah to BJP president J.P. Nadda was in Kerala for campaigning, revealing the party’s interest in garnering a bigger presence in the state.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “The people of Kerala will present a historic victory to the LDF”, and that the “account of BJP will be closed in Nemom”.
Nemom is the constituency from where BJP won its first assembly seat in Kerala through veteran O. Rajagopal. This time there is fierce competition to the BJP candidate in Nemom, Kummanam Rajasekharan, from Congress leader K. Muraleedharan
“The UDF will win a historic victory”, said Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala. Congress leader and former chief minister Oommen Chandy was among the early voters at his constituency Puthupally in Kottayam district, accompanied by his son Chandy Oommen.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi who is a Congress MP from Wayanad in Kerala and his sister Priyanka Gandhi spent several days campaigning in Kerala.
BJP leader K Surendran said “this is the election that will give the BJP a strong foothold in Kerala”. Surendran is contesting from two constituencies, Manjeswaram and Konni.
Votes will be counted on May 2.