Voters turned out in large numbers at the polling stations in Kerala as the crucial Indian elections entered the third phase. Pollsters say the high turnout reflects consolidation of minority votes against Narendra Modi, the frontrunner for the premier.
All 20 constituencies in Kerala went to the polls along with 71 others elsewhere in the country on Thursday.
According to the provisional estimates released by the chief electoral officer, 73.6 percent of the 24.2 billion voters in the state exercised their franchise at 6 p.m. when the polling was still on for latecomers. Unofficial estimates put the figure at 76 percent.
In the 2009, the turnout was 73.37 percent when the Congress and its allies swept 16 of the 20 seats from the state. This time too the ruling coalition senses a handsome number from the state.
“There is no specific wave visible at the moment for or against Modi in Kerala. But his emergence appears to have created fear among the minorities, especially the Muslims,” said G. Gopakumar, a leading poll analyst in the state. “But the outcome is not predictable yet,” he added.
Muslims and Christians constitute 45 percent of the population of the state that traditionally elects rival fronts led by the Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxists.
He believes the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) is sure to win at least eight seats while the Left Democratic Front (LDF) would retain its four unassailable seats in its kitty. The remaining eight constituencies could swing either way.
Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to retain its tradition of drawing a blank in the state with a strong Leftist leniency.
“The Congress will secure an all-time high number of seats. People don’t want a sectarian government. In reality, the BJP’s manifesto has increased our chances of winning,” Defense Minister A.K. Antony, who led the campaign for the UDF, said after casting his vote here.