Record Voter Turnout In Kerala Keeps all Fronts on Tenterhooks

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Record Voter Turnout In Kerala Keeps all Fronts on Tenterhooks

The turnout was 76.50 per cent compared to 72.04 in the previous elections. What does this indicate? 

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala on Tuesday converted polling to the Lok Sabha elections in to a festival of democracy with voting percentage touching a whopping 76.50 and still counting. This is way above the 72.04 percent recorded in the last elections. Women in colourful attire ‘stormed’ the voting booths in many places.

Election Commission sources said the polling percentage is likely to settle around 78 percent as the voting process went late into the night. In many constituencies, the Election Commission had to issue tokens for people to vote beyond the mandatory 6 pm.

What was noteworthy was the record turnout of 79.5 per cent in Wayanad where Congress president Rahul Gandhi is a candidate. This was a six per cent jump from last elections.

But beating Wayanad was neighbouring Kannur where the voting per centage crossed 81.79. In Kannur, a Red bastion, the Congress is fighting a pitched battle with the CPM to wrest the seat from the Left.

Also noteworthy was the huge turnout in Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur where the BJP is hoping to make a breakthrough to the Lok Sabha for the first time.

But the big question is what does this huge turnout indicate. The Congress claims that it was a Rahul wave, the BJP a Sabarimala wave and the Left believes that it is the trust in the CPM’s policies.

However, the truth is that neither of these claims reflect the true picture. One critical factor that needs flagging is the competitive spirit among women in casting their vote. While Muslim women dominated areas like Malapuram and Kozhikode, there was a huge turnout of Hindu voters in central and south Kerala – the Sabarimala heartland.

This unprecedented voter turnout, mainly by Hindu women, is indicative that the Sabarimala factor is in play. But in most seats except Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur, which may to to the BJP, the Hindu votes are likely to go in favour of the Congress.

The turnout of women voters has rattled the Left Front which is trying to put a brave face. This is because women were in the forefront of the Sabarimala agitation during the holy Mandala season in November-December last year.

From the first reading of the poll percentage, it looks like the Congress-headed UDF is likely to gain substantially and bag close to 12 of the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala, the CPM 6 and BJP 2.

It was not vote percentage alone that captured the headlines in Kerala. Among the voters was a snake that found its way into a VVPAT machine in Kannur. Five people died while waiting for their chance to vote.

In many places there were rampant complaints of malfunctioning of the EVMs, leading to a delay in the polling process.

There were also complaints of slow process of voting and in many booths, people had to wait for over three hours to cast their vote.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old man was booked by police after he allegedly made a false complaint about a voting machine in a booth where he cast his vote in the Lok Sabha elections. The case was registered against the voter, identified as Ebin Babu, under IPC section 177 (furnishing false information) after a test voting conducted by polling officials showed his complaint to be false, police said.

After casting his vote in the booth in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency, Babu complained to polling officials the VVPAT machine showed his vote was not registered in favour of his preferred candidate. However, after a test voting was held in the presence of the presiding officer and polling agents, the complaint was found to be false.