Over 75 percent voting in Kerala local bodies polls


Thiruvananthapuram: Over 75 polling was recorded in the first phase of Kerala local bodies elections in seven districts Saturday. The elections were not trouble-free as country-made bombs went off in six places with reports of alleged booth capturing.

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In the first phase, Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kasargode districts went to the polls.

Wayand came first with 81.10 percent turnout and the capital district saw the lowest with around 67.35 voters casting their votes.

Country-made bombs went off in six places in Kannur district, the stronghold of the Communist Party of India-Marxist. Complaints of booth capturing were also reported, forcing the State Election Commission to order re-poll in five wards in the district Monday.

There were reports of skirmishes in different places with the CPI-M, Congress and BJP accusing one another for these incidents.

Polling began at 7 a.m. and at several places people were standing in queues even after 5 p.m., the scheduled close.

Earlier in the day, leader of opposition Oommen Chandy, wrote to the SEC, saying that there have been incidents of ballot boxes being captured at few places in Kannur. He urged the poll panel to see that steps are taken to ensure that people can cast their votes without fear.

He also alleged that the ruling Left was creating trouble and was not allowing the agents of the opposition to sit in the polling booth.

Earlier in the day, Union Minister of State for Home Mullapally Ramachandran said he had received reports that there could be “problems” in Kannur.

“We were prepared to send central forces but the state government was not keen on it. The report that I have received is that there could be problems in Kannur,” Ramachandran said after casting his vote.

State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, however, denied this.

“Till now no one has informed me of any issues anywhere. And if anyone can point out any trouble, it would be looked into,” Balakrishnan said.

The remaining seven districts go to the polls Monday.