Thiruvananthapuram: Polling began in all the 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala today.
Voters began to trickle in most of the polling stations as soon as polling opened at 7 am, to choose their representatives for the 16th Lok Sabha.
At many booths, voters queued up well before the start of polling. Voting will take place in 21,424 polling stations and over 2.42 crore voters are expected to exercise their franchise.
About 1.5 lakh officials including 10,000 women have been deployed for poll duties. Though 269 candidates are in the fray, the main fight, as in the past, is between the Congress-led UDF, now in power, and the opposition CPI-M-led LDF. The BJP has turned the electoral battle into a three-horse race in the state capital in down south and the nortnernmost Kasargode.
The principal contestants in the fray include six Union Ministers including K V Thomas (Ernakulam) and Shashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram) all of them from the UDF.
The LDF leaders seeking mandate include CPI-M politburo member M A Baby (Kollam) and four sitting MPs of the party -A Sampath (Attingal), M B Rajesh (Palakkad), P K Biju (Alathur) and P Karunakaran (Kasargod).
Though the campaign for the elections has remained largely incident-free, the Election Commission has identified 10 per cent of polling booths as critical in view of their past history of violence.