Seventy four percent of Kerala’s electorate exercised their franchise on Thursday during the second phase of the local body elections even as the state election commissioner announced re-polling would be held on Friday in many booths in Malappuram and Thrissur where EVMs developed snags.
Repolling will be held in 105 booths in Malappuram and nine in Thrissur districts on Friday as the electronic voting machines in these booths malfunctioned during the polls.
Announcing the re-polling, state election commissioner, K Sasidharan Nair told reporters on Thursday night that it was ‘unnatural’ that so many EVMs had developed the snag in the ‘press button’ during the voting process. He also said it was too early to say if there was any mechanical defect.
Nair said that repolling would be held “in 105 booths in Malappuram district and 9 booths in Thrissur district on Friday.”
“This (snag) was unnatural. There will be an independent inquiry. What type of inquiry, we will decide later”, he said.
In Thrissur, in few places the voting machines had developed some problems and they were replaced soon. But in nine places re-polling will have to be held, he said.
Voting had been allowed till 7PM in some booths in Malappuram district where EVMs had malfunctioned.
A total of 44,388 candidates were in the fray for 12,651 seats in Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram.
Two corporations -- Kochi and Thrissur and 55 municipalities, 576 gram panchayats, 89 block panchayats and seven district panchayats are among the local bodies where second phase polling is being held.
The first phase of the polls was held on November 2 in Kasargod, Kozhikode, Kannur, Idukki, Kollam, Wayanad and Thiruvananthapuram.
Counting of votes will be held on November 7.
Kerala CM Oommen Chandy demanded a comprehensive probe in the malfunctioning of the EVMs in Malappuram, while CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, wanted re-polling facilities in booths where polling had been affected.
The ruling Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF), opposition CPI(M) led LDF and BJP had locked horns with each other to woo the maximum voters in the polls which is considered crucial as it is the dress rehearsal for the assembly polls scheduled to be held by mid 2016.
This election will also be a litmus test for the saffron party which had warmed up to the SNDP, an organisation of the backward Ezhava community in Kerala, hoping to make inroads into the bi-polar polity in Kerala.