Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 5: The second phase of the local body polls in Kerala began this morning in the remaining seven districts, with ruling Congress-led UDF, opposition CPI(M)-led LDF and BJP locking horns in the electoral contest.
Among the early voters were IUML supremo Panakkad Shihab Thangal and Industries Minister, P K Kunhalikutty and UDF convener P P Thankachan.
A total of 44,388 candidate are in the fray for 12,651 seats in Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram where the polling is being held today.
Two corporations -- Kochi and Thrissur and 55 muncipalities, 576 gramma panchayats, 89 block panchayats and seven district panchayats are among the local bodies where the second phase polling is being held.
First phase of the polls was held on November 2 in Kasargod, Kozhikode, Kannur, Idukki, Kollam, Wayanad and Thiruvananthapuram.
The counting of votes will be held on November 7. The local body elections is crucial this year as Assembly polls are to be held by mid-next year and the civic results would indicate the political trend in the state.
The polls will also test the BJP's efforts to break the bipolar polity in the state, led by Congress-led UDF and CPI(M)-led LDF, by corning the support of Ezhava outfit Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP).
While Chief Minister Oommen chandy is confident of good performance in the civic polls and has maintained that the outcome will be a referendum of the four-and-a-half-year rule of his government, the opposition is hoping that various corruption charges that had hit the ruling front would give them an edge. 92-year old CPI-M veteran V S Achuthanandan, led the LDF's campaign.