There are 957 candidates in the fray for the 140-member assembly. About 2.74 crore citizens were eligible to vote. A number of voters, living outside of Kerala, avoided visiting their home state for voting in view of the Covid-19 pandemic and the tests they have to undergo before heading back. CPI(M) workers allegedly assaulted a presiding officer at a booth in Kannur district after he refused to allow a voter to cast his vote on grounds that the ration card he produced as his ID was not a valid document. While the official was treated at a hospital, the polling resumed after another official took over.
A war of words broke out over the Sabarimala issue among various leaders after Nair Service Society general secretary G Sukumaran Nair called for a change in the government over its handling of the temple issue. While the Congress cheered the comments with its senior leaders faulting the government again, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan hit back saying Lord Ayyappa and all gods were with his LDF government. Backward class minister AK Balan complained to the election commission against Nair and the Congress.
As the state shares a long border with Tamil Nadu, which too went to polls on Tuesday, rival political groups alleged double voting by some people in both states.
The elections to Kerala’s 15th assembly are a do or die battle for both the ruling CPI(M) and the Opposition Congress. Kerala is the only state where CPI(M) is in power, and a rout here could push the party into a deep existential crisis. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is bullish on re-election bolstered by his party’s performance in the recent local body polls.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who represents Wayanad in the Lok Sabha, has led an aggressive campaign. A win here is critical for him as it could silence the critics within the party about his leadership. Kerala voters have thrown out incumbents every five years, and Congress is hoping the trend will continue.
The BJP has done its best to ensure the win of at least a few of its candidates as it currently has just one MLA. ‘Metroman’ E Sreedharan, who is contesting from Palakkad, is one of its prominent faces in this election.