Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 2: Over 45 per cent of polling was recorded in the first five hours of local body elections in seven districts in Kerala, even as rains tried to play spoilsport at Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram.
Northern districts of Kannur, Kasaragod and Kozhikode reported heavy polling till 12 pm, election commission sources said.
Heavy rains in Thiruvananthapuram saw a dip in polling, which began at 7 pm, in the initial hours though it picked momentum later recording about 30-35 per cent.
The first phase of polling is being held at Kollam, Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kasaragod, Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram with over one crore voters expected to exercise their franchise by 5 pm.
Barring some stray incidents in some booths, polling was by and large peaceful.
Expressing confidence about the poll outcome, senior Congress leader and CWC member AK Antony said UDF will perform even better than the Aruvikkara bypoll in June this year which saw Congress candidate KS Sabarinath winning with a margin of over 10,000 votes.
"To think of an alternative to UDF is a terrifying dream for the voters," he said.
With assembly polls scheduled to be held by mid-2016, the civic polls are being seen as semi-finals with both UDF and CPI-M led LDF exuding confidence about the outcome.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has made it clear that the polls will be a referendum of his government's five year rule.
While CPI(M) state Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the polls will see the downfall of the UDF, politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan said UDF will "disintegrate" after the civic polls.
BJP state President V Muralidharan said polls will see a new political change in the state.
In the first phase, a total of 31,161 candidates, including 582 in district panchayats, 2844 in block panchayats, 22,788 in village panchayats, 1315 in corporations and 3632 in municipalities are trying their luck.
According to state Election Commission figures, there are 1,11,11006 voters in these seven districts.
The polls in the remaining seven districts - Alappuzha, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Kottayam, Malappuram and Palakkad - will be held in the second phase on November 5.
Counting will be held on November 7.