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Kerala Civic Elections: Brisk voting in second phase

Thursday, October 21, 2010 10:43:34 PM, IANS

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Kerala Civic Elections: Warm-up for 2011?

Thiruvananthapuram: Seven districts of Kerala saw brisk and peaceful polling Monday in the second phase of elections to local bodies, officials said.

Voting began at 7 a.m. in Kottayam, Idukki, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram and Palakkad districts and more than 20 percent polling was recorded in the first three hours, according to the State Election Commission.

The first phase of the elections took place Oct 23 in seven districts. A record 70,915 candidates are in the fray for the total 21,612 seats in the three-tier local bodies structure in the state.

In the second phase, elections are being held to 12,374 seats and 1.23 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes.

Electronic voting machines are being used only in corporations and municipalities, while traditional ballot papers are being used in the gram, block and district panchayats.

Voting has so far been peaceful unlike the first phase when Kannur district, the stronghold of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), saw violence and incidents of booth capturing. In five of these booths, re-polling is under way Monday.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who cast his vote in his hometown in Punnapara in Alapuzha district, said the verdict would be in favour of the Left.

Similarly, Leader of opposition Oommen Chandy, after he voted in his hometown Puthupally in Kottayam district, said the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) was sure to win.

He also condemned the violence in Kannur in the first phase of elections.

"It is a shame that (state) Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan could not ensure a fair poll in his home district in Kannur...he should resign. We have got reports that things are not peaceful in Kannur even during the re-poll," said Chandy.

Across the seven districts, people in the villages were making a beeline to cast their votes, while the cities saw relatively less enthusiasm.

The local bodies elections were last held in 2005 and since then all the five corporations in the state are being governed by the Left Democratic Front. The Left is in power in 11 of the 14 district panchayats, 33 of 53 municipalities, 114 of 152 block panchayats and 688 out of 984 gram panchayats as well.





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