Low voter turnout in Kerala: Political parties and candidates discuss underlying factors

PTI, Apr 27, 2024, 3:20 PM IST

A day after polling concluded in 20 constituencies in Kerala, candidates cutting across political sides on Saturday exuded confidence about their victory and hoped that the drastic drop in voter turnout would favour them. UDF candidates largely criticised the delayed voting, technical glitches of electronic voting machines and lack of arrangements in polling stations to beat the heat, but expressed confidence that these would not impact their winning prospects.

Many ruling LDF nominees openly claimed that decreased voter turnout has enhanced their chances of winning more seats.

They also claimed that the decreased voter turnout was a proof for the lack of anti-incumbency against the state government as claimed by the opposition UDF.

After examining the initial figures from the grassroots level, they also expressed confidence that their traditional votes had been polled despite humidity and technical glitches.

Senior Congress leader and party candidate in Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor said the party received ”very positive news” not only from Kerala but also from Hindi-speaking states with the completion of the second phase of polling in the country.

”There is no doubt about the victory in Thiruvananthapuram. It will be a comfortable victory. The competition in the segment is for the second place,” Tharoor told reporters here.

However, the leader said he cannot say at the moment whether the LDF or the BJP-led NDA would come in the second position in Thiruvananthapuram which witnessed a fierce three-cornered fight.

Congress leader and the party candidate in Thrissur K Muraleedharan alleged that large scale cross-voting had happened in the constituency.

He also said the decreased voter turnout won’t be a negative factor in his winning prospects.

”If the BJP comes in the second position in Thrissur, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will be solely responsible for that,” Muraleedharan further alleged.

He said the BJP would not win any seat in the state this time.

He also accused the Election Commission of failing to arrange adequate facilities for voters to beat the heat.

LDF’s sitting MP and candidate in Alappuzha A M Arif attributed the decreased voter turnout to intense heat and humidity.

He said while examining the initial figures, it is believed that the traditional party votes had been polled without fail despite EVM glitches and heat.

He also wanted the Election Commission to make enough arrangements to face situations like intense heat at least in the elections in future.

”We should not persecute the voters for taking part in the democratic process,” Arif further said.

Former Finance Minister and LDF candidate in Pathanamthitta T M Thomas Isaac indicated that the decreased voter turnout would ensure the victory of the Left in the segment.

He claimed that the absence of BJP voters might be the reason for decreased poll percentage.

While LDF candidate in Kasaragod M V Balakrishnan Master expected a victory margin of 70,000 votes, his rival candidate and Congress’s sitting MP Rajmohan Unnithan claimed that he would win by a margin of over one lakh votes.

BJP candidate Suresh Gopi also expressed confidence that he could wrest Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency by beating the traditional fronts- LDF and UDF- this time.

Despite heightened political fervour and anticipation about the general elections for the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala, the process concluded with a notable decrease in voter turnout, as the figure stood at 70.22 per cent at 8pm yesterday.

This figure, while significant, was quite a drop from the polling percentage of 77.84 per cent registered in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

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