Numerous complaints of malfunctioning of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and death of six people who had gone for voting were reported from across Kerala on Tuesday as the state is voting to elect 20 Lok Sabha members.
The malfunctioning was pointed out by none other than Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who said that election officials appear to have failed to ensure that the EVMs worked properly.
“I myself had to wait for a while and I was told that the EVMs are not working. I am also told that this is the case in other places also,” Vijayan told the media in Kannur after he voted.
Thushar Vellappally, the NDA candidate from Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency who is pitted against Rahul Gandhi, demanded re-polling after EVM malfunction.
At a booth in Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha constituency, even after two hours after polling began officially, voting had not begun at one booth because the EVMs would not work.
“We came and stood in the queue at 6 am so that we could vote early and go. But even now, at 9, voting has not commenced,” said one angry voter.
Thiruvananthapuram District Collector K Vasuki rubbished reports that at a booth in Kovalam in the state capital, whenever the button for the Congress candidate was pressed, the light against the BJP symbol lit up.
“This has been checked and this is not true,” said Vasuki.
Meanwhile, according to local media reports, six people have reportedly collapsed and died while standing in queues for voting in Kerala.
A 62-year-old woman identified as M Vijayi collapsed at the Ramavilasam UP School booth at Chokli in Kannur constituency. She succumbed on the way to hospital. Another death was reported from Pezhumpara near Ranni where a man fainted while entering a polling booth. The third person fainted in a booth near Kalady and later died in hospital.
A 74-year-old died after collapsing in a polling booth in Kandiyoor near Mavelikkara. A 64-year-old man from the Adivasi Colony in Anjanikkunnu near Panamaram also collapsed while going to the polling booth and was declared “brought dead” to the hospital. Another voter from Talipparamba died after casting his vote.
Congress’ Shashi Tharoor cast his vote early in the day in Thiruvananthapuram.
Tharoor is facing a triangular contest in Thiruvananthapuram, where the BJP has fielded former Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan and the CPI C Divakaran, who is a sitting CPI MLA and former state minister.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi (Wayanad), Union minister Alphons Kannamthanam (Ernakulam) and two-time sitting MP Shashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram) are key candidates from the state.
As many as 13 sitting MPs, nine MLAs, and two actors are among the candidates contesting the polls.
A total of 227 candidates are in the fray, and 24,970 polling stations have been set up in the 20 constituencies. The contest is mainly between the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, and Opposition Congress-led UDF, with the BJP-NDA putting up a tough fight in a few constituencies.
A total of 117 seats across 15 states and Union Territories are voting today as part of a mammoth democratic process to elect the 17th Lok Sabha.
(With agency inputs)