Debating India


70 pc vote, peacefully, in round 2

Sunday 30 April 2006

Express news service

KOCHI, April 29 : Seventy per cent voters cast votes in the six Kerala districts from Ernakulam to Wayanad - marginally less than in the last Assembly elections - in the second round of the polls today. The polling was largely peaceful, except for minor skirmishes in some areas. The contestants in the fray included the Left Front’s Chief Minister-probable VS Achuthanandan and Sangh Parivar’s only reasonable hope to produce an MLA of its own O Rajagopal. VS predictably said the only thing that remained to be seen in his constituency, Malampuzha, was how big his victory margin would be.

In neighbouring Palakkad, BJP’s Rajagopal appeared upbeat despite his running feud with the PP Mukundan-led RSS hawks in the party. BJP sources claim that they had managed to ensure enough votes for the former Union minister to romp home with a decent margin.

As a host of TV exit polls predicted a clear Left sweep of the second round as in the first, KPCC chief Ramesh Chennithala dared the CPI(M) to come clean about the quid-pro-quo deals that it has allegedly struck with Muslim fundamentalist outfits. BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai said his calculations said this poll was going to be the Congress-led UDF’s ?Waterloo’.

In Malappuram, the Muslim League heaved and pushed to ensure that voters in its pocketboroughs turned up at the booths. But projections are that the League would need to be lucky to retain some of its constituencies in its heartland.

The third and last round of the polls is slated for 3 May, in Red fortress Kannur and Kasargod. Significantly, in Kannur, which is known more for its blood and gore politics - scores had been butchered or maimed in the CPI(M)-RSS-Congress battles in earlier years - the District Collector informed the Election Commission that there wasn’t a single booth in his district that was not sensitive. Police sources said an unprecedented 15,000 cops were being deployed in Kannur.

Marad in north Kerala, where the state’s worst communal carnage was staged in 2002 and 2003, leaving 14 people dead, peacefully went through its first Assembly poll since its nightmare under an elaborate security blanket.

The defining sign of normalcy in Marad was the scene of Hindu and Muslim women walking together to and fro the two poll booths in the village. Even this has been a rarity ever since the Sangh Parivar had kept in exile every single one of the village’s 191 Muslim families for over a year, after eight Hindu fisherfolk were chopped to death on the beach three years ago.

See online : The Indian Express

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