Braving heavy pre-monsoon showers and strong winds, at least 76% voters exercised their franchise in Chenganur assembly constituency in Kerala that is witnessing a fierce three-cornered contest.The by-poll was peaceful and all three major contenders exuded confidence that the high polling will help them. In the last assembly election, polling percentage was 74, resulting in a close contest between all three candidates. The ruling CPI(M) has fielded Alappuzha district secretary Saji Cherian, BJP its former state president PS Sreedharan Pillai and Congress its veteran leader SD Vijayakumar. The by-election was necessitated with the death of sitting MLA KK Ramachandran Nair of CPI-M.In recent history, no other constituency in the state has witnessed so much of heat and dust, and top leaders were paraded for campaigning. Union ministers Prakash Javadekar and Smriti Irani of BJP, CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat and former defence minister AK Antony of Congress were some who came for the high-voltage campaigning that lasted for almost two months.Stakes are high for all the three parties. The CPI(M) is desperate to retain its seat because it feels it is a referendum on its government. For the BJP it is an opportunity to announce its arrival in the state. Its leaders claimed that Chenganur will be the launching pad for the party in the state. And the Congress wants to retain its stronghold that slipped out of its kitty in the last assembly election. Though the outcome will not have an immediate repercussion in the state, it is being viewed as a semi-final before next year’s general elections.