Thiruvananthapuram: Across Kerala, the response to polling was enthusiastic and after the first two hours of the poll, 10 per cent of the electorate had cast their votes, said the State Election Commission officials on Wednesday.
The fate of 957 candidates would be decided by an electorate of 1,41,62,025 women, 1,32,83,724 men and 290 transgender voters.
The ruling Left led by its 'Captain' Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan cast his vote at his home town in Kannur and later said, "The writing on the wall was very evident, right from the time the campaign started we could sense the mood of the people and the Left will retain power."
What surprised many was the response of Vijayan when asked if the Sabarimala temple issue would snowball, he while dismissing that said, "it's not just Ayyappan alone, all God's are supporting the Left," said Vijayan, who was accompanied by his wife Kamala Vijayan.
Expressing absolute confidence, Vijayan said there is no doubt on the outcome of the polls, which they are sure to win with a better margin than 2016.
"We will close the BJP, which opened their account in the 2016 polls, by winning one seat. I have full faith in the people and the people also have extended their full faith in the Left government. I travelled all across the state and I could sense the people's mood towards us," said Vijayan.
Meanwhile, down south in Haripad in Alappuzha district, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala was spotted at his home turf accompanied by his family. After casting his vote, he said it would be a historic win for the Congress-led UDF which would regain power.
"All that we have raised against the most corrupt Left government has been fully accepted by the people. All the five years it was only suffering for the people and even the floods that took place in 2018 was man made. There was huge support for the campaign of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and people will use the ballot to give a sound beating to the misrule of Vijayan," said Chennithala.
Reacting to Vijayan's sudden love for Lord Ayyappan, Chennithala laughed and said it's strange to hear an atheist's sudden love for Ayyappan.
"Vijayan will get the wrath of Ayyappan as he destroyed the sanctity of the famed Sabarimala temple," said Chennithala.
Meanwhile, state BJP president K.Surendran, who is contesting from two constituencies said this time it's a crucial election for them.
"This is an election which will see the BJP strengthening its base in the state. A phenomenon is taking place like the 2016 polls, when the traditional rival fronts -- the Left and the Congress-led UDF are hand in glove in a few constituencies to oust us, but the people are going to help us," said Surendran.
State Congress president Mullapally Ramachandran was confident of the outcome and he said the UDF will score a 'century' as people are badly waiting for a change in governance.
Meanwhile, a 65-year-old man, who was standing in the queue to vote at the Aranmula constituency in Pathanamthitta collapsed and was declared dead when he was brought to a nearby hospital.
Polling is taking place as per the strict Covid protocols and while in the 2016 Assembly polls, 21,498 polling booths were there, this time due to the Covid pandemic the number of polling booths has been increased to 40,771.
The poll will end at 7 p.m. and the last hour has been kept aside for Covid positive patients and for those in quarantine.
The principal political fronts contesting the elections are the ruling CPI-M led Left Democratic Front (LDF), the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
In the outgoing Assembly (2016 polls) the LDF had 91 seats, the UDF 47 the NDA one seat and there was one independent candidate.
A total of 59,292 Kerala Police personnel and 140 companies of the CISF, CRPF and BSF officials are also deployed for duty, which is by far the biggest deployment of central forces for any poll in the state.
The counting of votes will take place on May 2.