Though nearly 75 per cent votes were cast as per provisional figures, political parties seem to be in disarray as all of them had based their calculation on voting much above 80 per cent, which is unlikely to happen. Political circles are abuzz with some sort of a dismay on the calculations based on the voters whom they expected and didn’t turnout.
The polling was also by and large peaceful except some minor incidents in Aruvikkara GHSS following a dispute over a crowd which gathered there after casting their votes. Police personnel asked the crowd to clear out which led to a dispute between some DYFI activists and BSF personnel but police personnel ensured that there were no untoward incidents.
The gates of the Aruvikkara GHSS was closed at 5.00 pm leading to the CPM activists staging a sit-in protest, but the Returning Officer said as per EC norms no one outsides the premises of the school at 5 pm can be allowed, but all those in queue at that time will be able to cast their votes. Later, all of them were allowed to vote, defusing the tension in the booth.
In some polling booths including Chenga LPS in Vellanad there were disputes between election agents of political parties and electoral officials over the frequent disruption to voting due to power cuts.
The officials did not ensure that generators were in place, agents of political parties complained. A glitch in an EVM machine also disrupted polling for just more than half an hour in a polling booth in Vellanad, but officials managed to arrange another machine was soon.
The by-poll was necessitated following the death of sitting member and assembly speaker G Karthikeyan in March. He had represented the constituency for 24 years.
There are a total of 16 candidates in the fray, and there are a total of 184,210 voters — up from 164,884 in 2011, when Karthikeyan won with a margin of over 10,000 votes.
The ruling Congress has fielded Karthikeyan’s 31-year-old son K A Sabarinathan, while the Communist Party of India-Marxist has nominated 67-year-old former speaker and minister M Vijayakumar and the Bharatiya Janata Party has pitted its regular warhorse, O Rajagopal, 85, in the fray.
On Saturday, all three candidates expressed confidence of winning the poll.
Sabarinathan said his biggest advantage is that Aruvikara electorate has been an extended family for him, while Vijayakumar said Keralites all over the world were viewing this election and the electorate is waiting to give a fitting lesson to the Oommen Chandy government.
Rajagopal said for the past five decades, the people of Kerala had just two options, either the Congress-led front or a CPI-M led government. He said the BJP has now emerged as the third alternative and people will definitely vote for a change.
Saturday’s election had seen the photo of candidates affixed on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the first time in a bid to eliminate confusion among voters.
Major polling centres at Government UPS Vithura, Vellanad, Aruvikkara and Aryanad recorded brisk polling from the morning itself but heavy rains dampened voter turnout in smaller centres like Government LPS Pre-Primary School, Puthukulangara in Uzhammakal panchayat, which had nearly 1,300 voters.