Polling began at 7 am on Monday for the Kerala Assembly elections and by 3 pm, 57.83% of the state's 3.4 crore voters had exercised their franchise. The polls will decide the fate of 1,203 candidates, who are contesting 140 seats in the 14th Assembly election in the state. The polls recorded a 45% voter turnout till 1 pm, with election officials expecting a high turnout, perhaps beyond 80%, the Deccan Chronicle reported. In 2011, 75.12% of the electorate had voted.
The state faces a three-way contest between the Congress-led United Democratic Front, the Left Democratic Front led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and relative newcomer the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP, which will contest 24 seats, is likely to undercut both the UDF and the LDF, which have traded power in the state so far.
The ruling UDF, with Oommen Chandy as Chief Minister, faces an uphill battle with anti-incumbency, but could become the first party in the state to retain power for two consecutive terms. The Left, on the other hand, will be keen on regaining lost ground, and bank on the vote of the Muslims in the state. The BJP has also campaigned hard in the state this time around. As polls begin, two major touch-points for voters will be the solar scam, in which Chandy has been implicated, and the brutal rape and murder of a Dalit woman in the state.