All arrangements in place for crucial Kerala bypoll

Thiruvananthapuram, June 26 (IANS) All arrangements were in place on Friday for a crucial by-poll to Kerala’s Aruvikara assembly constituency and all three major candidates expressed confidence about their victory.

Polling will take place on Saturday at 153 polling booths from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the constituency and counting of votes will take place on Tuesday.

The by-poll was necessitated following the death in March of sitting member and Assembly speaker G. Karthikeyan, who had represented this constituency for 24 years.

There are a total of 16 candidates in the fray in the constituency, where the total electorate in the constituency stands at 1,77,594 — up from 1,65,638 in 2011, when Karthikeyan won with a margin of over 10,000 votes.

The ruling Congress has fielded Karthikeyan’s 31-year-old son K.A. Sabarinathan, the Communist Party of India-Marxist has nominated 67-year-old former speaker and minister M. Vijayakumar and the Bharatiya Janata Party has pitted its regular warhorse, 85-year-old O. Rajagopal, in the fray.

When media persons caught up with the three candidates who are engaged in an unusually silent campaign, Sabarinathan said it was a novel experience for him but victory would be his.

Vijayakumar also said that he was trying to meet as many people as possible and his party “has no doubt on the outcome as the electors will vote us to victory”.

Superstar Suresh Gopi, the chairman-designate of the National Film Development Corporation and campaigning on behalf of Rajagopal, said: “People definitely seek a change and it’s visible.”

Incidentally, Saturday’s election would be the first time in the state where the photo of every candidate would be affixed on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in a bid to eliminate confusion among voters when candidates having similar names to that of the main aspirants are in the fray.

This time there is one namesake candidate for Sabarinathan and two for Vijayakumar.

The outcome of this election is crucial for all the three fronts and it is likely to have wide-ranging political ramifications in the state as the local body polls are to take place in October this year and the assembly elections in April next year.

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