The 2.61 crore electorate will be choosing their representatives from the 1203 candidates, including 109 women, who are in the fray.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, IUML leader and Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty, Kerala Congress (Mani) supremo and former Finance minister, K M Mani, 93-year-old V S Achuthanandan, CPI-M leader, Politburo member, Pinarayi Vijayan, BJP state president, Kummanam Rajasekharan and cricketer-turned politician Sreesanth are among those contesting.
Among the early voters were Pinarayi Vijayan, actor and BJP Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi and Congress MLA Sabarinath.
Minister of State for Excise K Babu, who came under flak for his alleged role in the bar scam that rocked Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s government, told reporters at Ernakulam soon after casting his vote that there is no doubt the Congress-led UDF was going to win.
CPI-M politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan, expressed absolute confidence that they were on course to form the next government.
“People will vote out the most corrupt government and there will be no space in Kerala for those who practice communal politics,” said Vijayan after casting his vote in Kannur district.
Superstar Suresh Gopi, who recently was nominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Rajya Sabha, after casting his vote in the capital city said the hopes of the NDA alliance is sky high.
“Elections, today is similar to a circus ring, where strategies of various kinds are adopted. We have done our duty and placed our things before the people and now let the people decide,” said Gopi, who actively campaigned for the NDA candidates across the state.
Former state minister of finance K M Mani who had to resign following an adverse court remark for his role in the bar scam, cast his vote along with his wife at his home town in Pala near Kottayam.
The actor son of superstar Mammootty, Dulqar Salman while waiting for his turn to vote at Ernakulam said that this is the first time that he is casting his vote in Kerala.
“In the previous elections, I used to vote in Chennai. I am happy, that this time I am voting here and the youth should come out in large numbers to vote as it’s their responsibility and the right to do so,” said Salman.
Meanwhile, 70-year-old Kunju Abdullah Haji who came to cast his vote at the CKG College at Perambara near Kozhikode collapsed while standing in the queue to vote and was declared dead when he was taken to a nearby hospital.
Even before polling began at 7 a.m, people had begun queueing up at various booths. Some parts of the state received rain showers this morning.
At least 52,000 police personnel have been deployed acrossfor the smooth conduct of the polls, with 3176 polling stations being identified as ‘sensitive, critical and vulnerable’, including 119 in naxal affected areas of four districts.
There are 21,498 regular polling stations and 148 auxiliary polling booths across the 140 assembly segments in the state.
The two-month long campaign saw ruling Congress-led UDF and CPI-M headed LDF engaging in a fierce battle, with BJP-NDA alliance also eyeing to open its account for the first time.
The coming of the BJP-led alliance in the polls is seen by political observers as an attempt to break the bipolar politics of the state, which has always chosen the rival fronts alternatively over the last several years.
The saffron party has tied up with Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), a newly floated party of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP), an organisation of the backward Ezhava community.
Of the 2.60 crore electorate, 1.35 crore are women voters and two belong to the third gender. This is the first time the third gender figures in the electoral rolls in the state.
Several overseas voters, especially from north Kerala, have been coming to the state since the past few days to cast their franchise. The strength of the overseas electorate is 23,289.
Kerala voters from the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have also reached the state to exercise their franchise.