Contrary to expectations, the high-voltage campaign in the bypoll failed to draw people to polling booths in Thrikkakara with only 68.75% of the voters turning up on Tuesday, the lowest since the constituency was formed in 2011.  As per the provisional data by the Election Commission, the polling percentage stood at 68.75 at 6pm, the closing time. The figure is likely to change slightly after the final tallying of the polling data. 

Of the total 1,96,805 voters in the constituency, 1,35,320 voted, including 67,152 male voters (70.48%), and 68,167 female voters (67.13%). The constituency has more female voters. Polling started briskly recording 15.97% at 9am and crossing 50% by 2 pm. Then the pace started waining and only  18.75% turned up in the final hours. The voter turnout in the 2021 assembly election in Thrikkakara was 70.35%. The polling percentage in the assembly segment in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections was 76.05%.  

D Dhanuraj, chairman of Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), a Kochi-based think-tank, said the urban nature of the constituency and the irrelevance of the bypoll in the Kerala politics may have contributed to the slight dip in the turnout than previous times. 

“The big chunk of Twenty20-AAP supporters may have stayed away from the voting. This maybe another factor for less-than-anticipated voting percentage,” he said. The Twenty20 garnered 10% of votes in the 2021 election in Thrikkakara.

UDF alleges bogus voting

Meanwhile, the day saw allegations and counter-allegations by the leading fronts. While LDF alleged that the man booked for creating and spreading sleazy video against its candidate  Jo Joseph belonged to Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the UDF came out with charges of bogus voting against LDF.

“CPM had planned widespread bogus voting. They had distributed fake voter ID cards for this purpose,” alleged Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan. He further alleged that it was the CPM that had created the sleazy video and those arrested in the case had no connection with the League. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan countered the charges alleging UDF workers cast bogus votes with fake ID cards and the LDF will lodge a complaint in this regard. 

With the arrest of Abdul Latheef in the sleazy video case from Coimbatore on Tuesday, the LDF came out with allegations that UDF attempted to malign its candidate fearing defeat in the bypoll. Congress district president Mohammed Shiyas alleged that CPM attempted widespread bogus voting in Thrikkakara and the arrest of the DYFI leader proved it. BJP candidate A N Radhakrishnan alleged that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the LDF government paved way for bogus voting. “CPM had convened a confidential meeting at Thrikkakara for bogus voting using its cadre,” he said. 

CPPR Chairman Dr D Dhanuraj comments in a article published in the The New Indian Express on 25 May 2022, Click here to read

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