After the conclusion of voting in all 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala on the third phase on 23rd April, the state has recorded its highest ever voter turnout in 30 years. The Congress and the Left who have dominated the politics in Kerala, both have claimed of having an edge over each other. The BJP, on the other hand, is hopeful that the high turnout would let them make inroads into the State’s politics.
Kerala had registered a voter turnout of 77.68% this year, compared to 74.02% in 2014 and 73.37% in 2009. This is the highest turnout in 30 years after a 79.03% turnout in 1989. Eight constituencies out of 20 recorded more than 80% polling for the first time.
Kannur had the highest voter turnout of 83.05%, the lowest was in Thiruvananthapuram at 73.45% where Congress MP Shashi Tharoor is hoping to get elected for the third time and faces tough competition from both the Left and the BJP. The Wayanad constituency where Rahul Gandhi is contesting recorded its highest turnout with 80.31%.
Congress believes that the presence of Rahul Gandhi has given them an edge over the others. Congress leader A K Antony was quoted saying “The UDF is inching towards a grand victory. Rahul Gandhi’s candidature had ripple effect in all 20 constituencies of the state. High polling is a natural reply to CM Pinarayi’s adamant posture on many issues”.
The BJP, on the other hand, has its hope high due to the Sabarimala issue. The manner in which the Left had handled the situation and the consequent protests have made the BJP a tough competitor in Kerala especially in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram and Pathanamthitta. BJP State president P S Sreedharan Pillai has said that the NDA is hopeful for a favourable outcome and is expecting to win a couple of seats.
The CPI(M) led LDF is also hopeful in winning a considerable amount of seats claiming that the party in power had run a secular government. “High polling shows people support the renaissance movement being initiated by the government. We are sure the performance of 2004 when LDF swept the poll, will be repeated in 2019,” said CPI (M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
Political analysts and Kerala University assistant professor C A Josukutty says that the increased voter turnout may be due to anti-incumbency or even the highly emotive issue of women’s entry in Sabarimala.