The bypolls to the five assembly constituencies in Kerala was marred by heavy rains, especially in Ernakulam, with the tentative overall voter turnout touching 70 per cent. No untoward incidents were reported, officials said. As per the tentative figures, Aroor recorded the highest turnout of 80.26 per cent till around 7 pm, government sources said, adding heavy rains marred polling in Ernakulam where the voter turnout was the lowest-- 57.67 per cent. While the voter turnout in Manjeshwaram touched 74.81 per cent, in Konni it was 69.99 per cent and Vattiyoorkavu 62.59 per cent, the sources said.
A woman was arrested in Manjeshwaram in Kasaragod for impersonation as she allegedly tried to cast bogus vote in a booth. She was later released on bail. As voting drew to a close at 6 PM, people in queues in various booths were allowed to vote. Heavy rains affected voting in the early hours in Ernakulam as voters waded through water-logged roads to exercise their franchise and water seeped into some booths, while polling progressed in the four other constituencies. Chief Electoral officer Teeka Ram Meena said 10 water-logged booths on the ground floor were shifted to the first floor in Kochi. Voting in Ernakulam was not affected, he said.
Except Manjeshwaram, the constituencies of Konni, Vattiyoorkavu and Aroor were also affected by rains till noon, but worst hit was Kochi city and nearby areas in Ernakulam. A woman voter in Kochi said this was the first-time people had to exercise their franchise wading through knee-deep muddy water at Ayyappankavu.
A 92-year-old man, who was not allowed to vote as he carried only a copy of his voter ID, returned with all his identity cards to vote despite the rains. The electorate strength in the five constituencies is 9.57 lakh. The ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, opposition Congress headed UDF and BJP-led NDA are the three fronts which had locked horns for the five seats.
While the bypoll to Majeshwaram was held following the death of the sitting MLA of the IUML, a coalition partner of the UDF, in the remaining four constituencies, the polls were necessitated after legislators quit following their successful foray into the Lok Sabha. In the 140-member Kerala assembly, the ruling LDF has 92 MLAs, UDF 46, BJP one, besides an independent MLA, P C George. One seat is reserved for a nominated member of the Anglo-Indian community.