Record polling in Kerala by-election (Lead)

March 17th, 2012 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, March 17 (IANS) A record 85.6 percent of the electorate voted Saturday in the Piravom assembly constituency in Kerala, officials said.

The by-election follows the death of T.M. Jacob, the food and civil supplies minister. He was the lone legislator of his 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 (CPI-M).

Anup Jacob came to the polling booth at the start of polling at 7 a.m with his wife and mother.

“I see there is real vigour in (voting) and I am sure to win,” he said.

His Marxist rival made a similar claim: “The impressive turnout is going to be in my favour… I am going to win.”

According to the chief electoral officer here, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., a total of 85.6 percent of the electorate voted.

This constituency was set up in 1977. The previous highest turnout was in 1981 (85.31 percent).

Long queues of voters were seen outside all 134 polling booth from the time balloting began.

In many places, people were still lined up to vote even after 5 p.m.

The by-election is important as the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) scraped through in 2001 with a wafer thin majority, enabling Oommen Chandy to form the government.

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

Veteran character actor Lalu Alex waited for an hour to cast his vote.

Although the polling went off peacefully, police registered a case against two CPI-M legislators, Kolliyakode Krishnan Nair and Suresh Kurup, for violating election guidelines.

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