Campaign ends in clashes across Kerala, curfew in Vadakara

Campaign ends in Kerala today, voting from 7am on Tuesday

Thiruvananthapuram: Curtains came down on Sunday on the over a month-long campaign for the April 23 Lok Sabha elections in Kerala where Congress president Rahul Gandhi is seeking election from Wayanad constituency.

On the last day of campaign, the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, opposition Congress-led UDF and BJP-led NDA took out rallies across the state to woo the voters.

The most exciting campaign in the recent history of Kerala ended at 6 PM marred by a spate of incidents of violence involving members of all the three major fronts being reported from different parts of the state on Sunday.

The clash between LDF and UDF party workers in Vadakara has prompted district collector Sreeram Sambasiva Rao to declare a curfew on the voting day. Police lathi-charged to disperse the crowd. In Kasaragod, police had to employ tear gas to quell the situation after UDF and LDF workers started pelting stones.

The roadshow of senior Congress leader A K Antony here was allegedly blocked by a group of LDF activists forcing the former union minister to return.

More than 30 people, including a policeman, were injured at Thiruvalla, in Pathanamthitta district where the activists of the BJP and the Left clashed, police said adding they made a lathicharge to disperse the stone-pelting crowd.

Stone-pelting was reported from Alathur constituency where the convoy of UDF candidate Ramya Haridas was allegedly pelted with stones.

Incidents were also reported in Ernakulam, Thiruvalla, Thodupuzha, Karunagappally and Kannur.

The 40-day long campaign saw leaders of rival parties hurling charges and counter charges, including some remarks which caught the attention of the Election Commission for violation of model code.

The campaign saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, several unions ministers, Rahul Gandhi, his sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and top leaders of Left parties addressing rallies in different parts of the state.

Ballots will be cast from 7am to 6pm on April 23 which marks the third phase of the Indian general elections to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha.

Learn more about voting process: How to vote? Interactive Story

Numbers game

Kerala has a total of 2,61,51,534 voters; 1,34,66,521 female, 1,26,84,839 male and 174 transgenders, said Chief Election Officer Teeka Ram Meena at a press meet.

A mock poll will be carried out at 6am by poll officials in their respective booths before they let in voters at the schedule time.

Totally, 1,01,140 people have been employed for polling duties. They include 1,670 sectoral officers and 33,710 presiding officers.

Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha constituency has the most voters in Kerala: 13,78,587. The least number of voters are in the Idukki Lok Sabha constituency: 12,03,258.

Among the voters in Kerala, 5,94,177 are differently abled and 5,49,969 are new or first-time (18-19 age cohort) voters.

All polling booths will have two Braille ballot papers. In all the state has 24,970 polling stations across the 20 constituencies.

Kutyady, Aalathur and Kunnamangalam have auxiliary booths. Malappuram has the most number of booths, 2750, and Wayanad the least, 575.

The authorities have set up 867 model polling stations and 240 booths solely controlled by women.

Web casting has been arranged for 3,621 booths identified as ‘problematic’ with 219 facing Maoist threat; they include 72 in Wayanad, 67 in Malappuram, 39 in Kannur and 41 in Kozhikode.

Among the 227 candidates in the fray on the 20 seats, 23 are women, with Kannur leading with five female candidates.

For the one-day elections in the state, 35,193 voting machines, 32,746 control units and 44,427 ballot units will be put to use. They will be kept in 257 strong rooms as soon as the voting is over and will be taken out only on the counting day, May 23, one month later.

Across the southern state, 57 companies of central forces will ensure security. Twelve companies of CRFP men will guard strong rooms. A company consists of 135 security personnel.

The votes will be counted in 55 counting stations which will have 2,310 counting supervisors. The Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) will be counted in five booths in each constituency.

Green code

About 15 lakh banners, posters and hoardings were destroyed since March 11 to implement the green code for ensuring environment-friendly election campaign.

In all 51,000 complaints were received through the cVIGIL app.

Flying squads have so far confiscated items worth Rs 31 crore. Liquor worth Rs 44 lakh, drugs worth 21 crore, gold worth 3 crore and Rs 6.63 crore in cash were recovered. There will be more scrutiny in the days leading to polls, said Meena.

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