National

Kerala fails to sustain early vigour, may equal 2016 tally

Our Bureau. Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on April 06, 2021

Congress leader Oommen Chandy with his family members after casting their votes during Kerela Assembly polls, in Kottayam district, on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. - PTI

Sabarimala, the rallying point even on voting day

Kerala failed to consolidate the vigorous voting trend visible until 4 pm on Tuesday after a hot summer sun and seasonal thundershower intervened by turn over the midlands and high ranges, while a series of minor violence involving the CPI(M) and BJP cadres marred the process in others.

The polling percentage for the State as a whole was 73.40 per cent at 6.45 pm, within an earshot either equaling or beating the 77.61 per cent of 2019 Lok Sabha elections and 77.35 per cent of the 2016 Assembly elections. At one stage, the polling trend promised to breach these levels comfortably.

Eagerly-watched seats

Eagerly watched seats such as Nemom (Kummanam Rajasekharan); Kazhakkoottam and Vattiyoorkavu; Palakkad (Metroman E Sreedharan); Manjeswaram and Konni (State BJP President K Surendran is contesting from both); and Thrissur (actor Suresh Gopi) saw vigorous polling in the region of 70- to 75 per cent.

The overall State figures may go up by three to four percentage points since the last man standing in the queue at 6 pm would be allowed to vote, with the last hour reserved for those arriving in PPE kits. Last-minute brisk polling in the coastal belt, too, may help take the total polling figure to the 2016 figures.

Violence was reported from a few places, notably in the Kazhakkoottam seat, which faces one of the fiercest multi-cornered fights, with BJP candidate Shobha Surendran alleging that party workers were attacked by CPI(M) workers and that the police had not responded to her five requests for intervention.

Sabarimala hogged the limelight from early Tuesday morning when G Sukumaran Nair, General Secretary of the influential Nair Service Society (NSS), said in Kottayam that devotees of Lord Ayyappa at the Sabarimala hill shrine are ‘still bitter’ about events in the recent past that hurt their faith.

The people hope for a change for the good this time round. They want a government that stands for faith, tradition and culture. This invited instant riposte in Kannur, where outgoing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan remarked that the gods of the land favour the LDF for the good governance it delivered.

Law Minister AK Balan said that this was not a contest between believers and non-believers. He has complained to the Election Commission against both Sukumaran Nair and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala for alleged attempts to dub the election as a ‘fight between believers and non-believers.’

No other issue was talked about till past noon, after being mounted as the principal political narrative through the acrimonious campaign during the past month or so. Both the BJP-NDA (National Democratic Alliance) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) had used it as a central plank for the campaign.

Published on April 06, 2021

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