All political parties on their toes as Kerala logs 74.4% turnout

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Apr 14 2011, 08:00am hrs
Kerala saw a whopping turnout for assembly elections on Wednesday, with 74.4% of the voters turning up to exercise their franchise. The highest voter turnout was in Kannur and Alapuzha districts and the lowest was in the capital of Thiruvananthapuram.

About 60,000 polling officials and 80,000 police personnel were deployed to ensure smooth conduct. There are 20,758 polling stations for 2,29,47,469 crore voters. The counting of votes is scheduled on May 13.

Both ruling LDF and UDF are on their toes, with the polling percentge being extremely high in constituencies which witnessed the intense battles. For instance Paravoor constituency in Ernakulam showed 83.2% polling. The high voter turnout brings into focus two questions.

One, does the high voter turnout mean that Kerala has dropped its habit of see-sawing between two main coalitions, UDF and LDF Two, will BJP better its presence In 1996, LDF had lost the elections, even when it had 0.34% increase in vote share. This was because the increase in vote share was much lower than the swing in UDF's vote share. On the contrary, in 2006, LDF had seen a major swing in vote share, thanks to a huge voter turnout.

Secondly, there is the BJP factor. "While we have shown our mettle in government and Opposition in Centre, we are yet to be given an opportunity in Kerala government,' said Opposition leader Sushama Swaraj. BJP is eyeing at least two seats, one in Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram, where, the party has fielded former minister of state for railways O Rajagopal. Rajagopal had picked up over 2,28,000 votes in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from Thiruvananthapuram. The other is in Manjeswaram in Kasargode, where it has fielded BJP state secretary K Surendran. Since Kasargod borders Karnataka, with strong BJP roots, the party expects an opening in North Kerala.