Voting underway in Kerala, leaders express confidence

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 16: Leaders expressed confidence after casting their ballots on Monday to elect 140 new legislators to the 14th Kerala Legislative Assembly.

Polling began at 7.00 a.m. across the state and will end at 6.00 p.m.

Also read: Live updates Kerala Assembly elections 2016

Voting underway in Kerala,

The electoral battle is principally between the traditional rival fronts -- the Congress-led UDF and the CPI-M-led LDF, while the BJP led NDA alliance is hoping a major victory.

A total of 1,203 contestants, including 109 women, are in the fray for the 140 assembly seats.

Minister of State for Excise K.Babu, who came under flak for his alleged role in the bar scam that rocked Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's government, told reporters at Ernakulam soon after casting his vote that there is no doubt the Congress-led UDF was going to win.

CPI-M politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan, expressed absolute confidence that they were on course to form the next government.

"People will vote out the most corrupt government and there will be no space in Kerala for those who practice communal politics," said Vijayan after casting his vote in Kannur district.

Superstar Suresh Gopi, who recently was nominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Rajya Sabha, after casting his vote in the capital city said the hopes of the NDA alliance is sky high.

"Elections, today is similar to a circus ring, where strategies of various kinds are adopted. We have done our duty and placed our things before the people and now let the people decide," said Gopi, who actively campaigned for the NDA candidates across the state.

Former state minister of finance K.M.Mani who had to resign following an adverse court remark for his role in the bar scam, cast his vote along with his wife at his home town in Pala near Kottayam.

The actor son of superstar Mammootty, Dulqar Salman while waiting for his turn to vote at Ernakulam said that this is the first time that he is casting his vote in Kerala.

"In the previous elections, I used to vote in Chennai. I am happy, that this time I am voting here and the youth should come out in large numbers to vote as it's their responsibility and the right to do so," said Salman.

Meanwhile, 70-year-old Kunju Abdullah Haji who came to cast his vote at the CKG College at Perambara near Kozhikode collapsed while standing in the queue to vote and was declared dead when he was taken to a nearby hospital.

As per election officials, the state has 2,60,19,284 voters comprising 1,25,10,589 male, 1,35,08,693 female and two voters belonging to the third gender.

Overall, there are 21,498 regular polling booths and 148 auxiliary polling booths, of which there are 1,233 categorised as critical and including 119 booths that are in Maoist-influenced areas.

IANS

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