77.68% polling in Kerala; 80.31% turnout in Rahul's Wayanad

Kerala Elections 2019
Voting picked up pace in Wayanad, where Congress president Rahul Gandhi is in poll fray, after a slow start. Photo: Russell Shahul

Thiruvananthapuram: A total of 77.68 per cent of 2.61 crore voters Tuesday exercised their franchise to elect 20 Lok Sabha members from Kerala, where the ruling LDF and the opposition UDF fought tooth and nail to garner maximum seats.

Official sources said the election was by and large peaceful.

According to the figures released by the Election Commission, 77.68 per cent electors turned up in 24,970 polling stations across the state and all the constituencies crossed 70 per cent voting.

The high range constituency Wayanad, which came into national prominence after Congress chief's Rahul Gandhi's candidature, registered a record polling of 80.31 per cent against the 73.25 per cent registered in the 2014 elections.

The BJP-NDA lodged a complaint against Gandhi alleging he openly canvassed for votes through Twitter even while polling was on in the hill constituency.

They alleged that he canvassed for votes even after the time limit to openly campaign in the constituency ended at 5pm on April 21.

Kerala heads to polling booths in do-or-die battle for Left, Congress
Women lined up to vote at Amala Basic UP School in Pinarayi, Kannur, on Tuesday. Photo: Onmanorama

In the 2014 polls, 74.02 per cent votes were polled in the southern state, in which the UDF had won 12 seats, LDF 8 while BJP failed to open its account.

It was a do-or-die battle for both the ruling CPM-led LDF and opposition Congress-headed UDF in most of the 20 Lok Sabha seats this time in the state, known for its decades-long bipolar politics.

The BJP-led NDA posed a formidable challenge to the two traditional fronts in at least three constituencies - Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur.

The entire polling exercise was by and large smooth and peaceful in the state despite complaints of technical glitches in voting machines in some isolated booths and sporadic incidents of violence and difficulties caused by rains in some places.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who contested from Wayanad in addition to Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, his party colleague Shashi Tharoor, BJP leader Kummanam Rajasekharan (both Thiruvananthapuram) and Union Minister Alphons Kannamthanam (Ernakulam) were among prominent candidates in the fray.

Kerala heads to polling booths in do-or-die battle for Left, Congress
This old woman was one of the early birds to exercise one's franchise at NGO Quarters High School in Marikunnu, Kozhikode, on Tuesday. Photo: Onmanorama

As per the figures put up by the election commission, politically volatile Kannur witnessed the highest turnout of 83.05 per cent while Thiruvananthapuram the lowest turnout of 73.45 per cent, according to EC figures.

Pathanamthitta and Thrissur constituencies, which became the centre of focus following triangular fight between LDF, UDF and BJP, registered high turnout of 74.19 per cent and 77.86 respectively.

Faulty EVMs mar polling in Kerala
UDF's Thiruvananthapuram candidate Shashi Tharoor along with family members and friends after casting vote on Tuesday. Photo: Onmanorama

Pathanamthitta, where the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple is located, had witnessed frenzied protests against the state government's decision to implement the September 28 verdict permitting women of all age groups into the shrine.

Vadakara, where Congress candidate K Muraleedharan is pitted against CPM heavyweight and the party's former Kannur district secretary P Jayarajan, saw a voter turnout of 82.48 per cent.

The voting, which started on a brisk note across the State, crossed 50 per cent by afternoon.

Amit Shah
Amit Shah during a rally in Pathanamthitta.

The technical snag of voting machines troubled voters in some polling booths following which they had to queue up for hours to cast their franchise even after the deadline of 6 pm.

Heavy rains slowed down the process in certain pockets of Wayanad and Kasaragod constituencies.

P Jayarajan
LDF candidate in Vadakara, P Jayarajan, during election campaign.

In the early hours, many political leaders and film stars waited in long queues to cast their vote.

Governor P Sathasivam and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan were among the early voters.

Two elderly persons collapsed and died while waiting to cast their votes in polling booths at Vadakara and Pathnamthitta constituencies, while another person, who returned home after voting, complained of uneasiness and died shortly thereafter, police said.

Two polling agents of UDF were stabbed allegedly by CPM activists outside a polling station in Kasaragod constituency during a minor scuffle, police said.

In Thiruvananthapuram, a 21-year-old man was arrested after his complaint of EVM malfunction in a booth turned out to be false, police added.

A total of 227 candidates are in the fray in the state, including 23 women.

Wayanad constituency has the maximum number of candidates - 20 and the lowest is in Alathur in Palakkad district (6).