High voter turnout in Piravom by-poll in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, March 17 (IANS) Long queues were reported from almost all the polling booths since early morning Saturday at the crucial by-election to the Piravom assembly constituency in Kerala.

According to the chief electoral officer here, the polling began at 7 a.m. and by 9 a.m. 19.3 percent of the electorate had cast their votes.

The constituency has 93,245 women and 89,925 male voters and 134 polling stations. The voting was web cast from 14 polling booths.

Even though 26 booths have been identified as trouble prone, no untoward incident was reported.

The police though have registered a case against two legislators of the Communist Party of India-Marxist – Kolliyakode Krishnan Nair and Suresh Kurup, for violating election guidelines.

According to the election guidelines, all leaders and party workers, who are not a resident in the constituency should not remain there after 5 p.m. on March 15.

Kurup told reporters that he was not aware of a case being registered against him.

‘I am a responsible legislator and I have done no wrong, even though I am in the constituency,’ said Kurup.

E.P. Jayarajan, the CPI-M legislator in charge of overseeing the election campaign in the constituency lashed out at Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for using the police against the Left.

Congress legislator Joseph Vazhakan said that he was in charge of the campaign but he left the constituency when campaign ended on March 15.

‘Three CPI-M legislators are staying put in the constituency and the visual of Nair remaining in the constituency Saturday morning has been taken. This is a clear violation of election guidelines,’ said Vazhakan.

This by-election is important as in the 2011 assembly polls, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) alliance scraped through with a wafer thin majority, which enabled Oommen Chandy to form the new government.

In the 140-member Kerala assembly, 71 seats are currently held by the UDF and 67 by the opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF).

The by-election follows the death of T.M. Jacob, the food and civil supplies minister who was the sitting legislator from Piravom. He was the lone legislator of his party, Kerala Congress (Jacob), an ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

His son Anup Jacob, 34, is taking on his father’s old rival M.J. Jacob of the Communist Party of India-Marxist.