Malappuram: About 71 percent voting was recorded in the bypoll to the Malappuram Lok Sabha seat constituency in Kerala on Wednesday with the exercise passing off peacefully.
According to the polling officials, about 71 per cent polling was recorded in the constituency with around 13 lakh electorate. The turnout was close to the 71.21 percent turnout seen in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Mallapuram had recorded 74.95 per cent turnout in the seven assembly constituencies that make up the parliamentary constituency.
Congress-led UDF candidate PK Kunhalikutty of the Indian Union Muslim League, Communist Party of India-Marxist's (CPM) MB Faisal of ruling LDF and BJP nominee N Sreeprakash were the main contestants in the fray.
Even though all the three rival fronts had engaged in a keen election campaign, the voting day passed off without any problems at all. The high-voltage campaign had seen heated debates on beef versus development.
The UDF had launched a do-or-die battle to retain its stronghold, while the ruling LDF is hoping for an upset win.
Seeking to put the UDF camp on the back-foot, the LDF had claimed some senior Congress MPs from Kerala were likely to cross over to the BJP bandwagon.
The election was called after the death of sitting MP, E Ahamed of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader.
There were some incidents of EVM malfunctioning which were immediately rectified by the officials. More than 1,100 polling stations were set up in the constituency.
Six independents are also trying their luck in the Muslim-dominated constituency.
Soon after casting his vote, Kunhalikutty said the party's victory margin was set to go up and as the voting ended, he said that the increase in turnout will ensure that the margin of the victory would be better.
Faizal said the response from the electorate was positive and they expected secularism to turn out to be victorious.
Senior CPM leader TK Hamza said that whichever candidate (IUML or CPM) wins, the margin of victory would be very narrow.
Sreeprakash said the BJP had made inroads in the constituency and broken several barriers that prevailed in Malappuram.
Malappuram district is the citadel of the IUML and Ahamed won the 2014 polls with a record margin of 1.94 lakh votes. But during the 2016 assembly elections, the margin of the IUML legislators, who won in all the seven assembly constituencies, came down to 1.18 lakh votes.
Counting of votes will take place on Monday and the outcome could well be the first indicator on how well the 10-month-old Pinarayi Vijayan government has functioned.
With agency inputs
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Updated Date: Apr 13, 2017 11:42:47 IST