Thiruvananthapuram: Despite heavy rains lashing most places in Kerala, where five by-elections were due on Monday, people came out in good numbers to cast their votes, enthusing three key rival political fronts which feared poll postponement.
The counting will take place on Thursday.
Even the worst affected constituency, Ernakulam, which in the first few hours registered only single digit percentage of votes polled, people came out braving rains and water-logging. Those who made it to the polling stations before 6 p.m. were given tokens to cast their votes.
The Congress demand to extend the voting time by two hours at Ernakulam was turned down by chief electoral officer Tika Ram Meena.
While the Congress and BJP appeared much concerned about the poor turnout in the afternoon, their faces lit up as the day wore on. The final polling figures are expected to come later, as in many booths, presiding officers are yet to give data on poll percentage. The final figures are expected tomorrow morning, officials said.
"Our demand to extend the voting time at Ernakulam was not accepted, though it was a genuine demand as many people were unable to get out of their homes because of flooding. However, the present voting figure is good enough," said senior Congress legislator V.D. Sateeshan.
Of the five constituencies which went to the polls, four are represented by the Congress-led UDF while the Aroor seat is with the CPI-M.
According to the latest polling figures, Aroor recorded the highest turnout with 79.24 per cent, Manjeswaram 75.65, Konni 70, Vatiyoorkavu 62.30 per cent and Ernakulam 56.88 per cent.
The CPI-M led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is determined to not only retain Aroor, but also expects a fair chance at Konni as well as Vatiyoorkavu.
The Congress expects its winning streak would not be altered and Ramachandran has said the party would wrest the Aroor seat even, giving it a clean sweep.
Meanwhile at Manjeswaram, a women, Nabeesa, was arrested and later released on bail for alleged impersonation, a charge she and her family denied.
A total of 9,57,509 voters, including 4,91,455 women, 4,66,047 men and seven transgenders will decide the fate of 35 candidates at 846 polling stations in the five constituencies.