Even though Malappuram Lok Sabha constituency saw a heated political campaigning in the run up to the by polls on Wednesday, the voter turnout in the first three hours of polling was rather slow. However, the political parties hope that the voting would pick up in the hours to come and surpass the 71.26% turnout of 2014 general elections.
 

Related: Malappuram by-polls: Significance of an inconsequential election

 

Nine candidates, including Muslim League National General Secretary PK Kunjalikkutty and LDF candidate M B Faisal, are in the fray.


Malappuram by-polls

Total voters: 13.12 lakh

Candidates: 9

1006 NRK votes

3525: Polling officers

Polling booths: 1175

 

Kunjalikkutty expressed confidence that he could better the performance by late E Ahmad who won with a margin of 1.94 lakh votes in 2014.

 

But the LDF leadership calculates that 2004 would repeat this time and its young candidate MB Faisal would spring a surprise to the Muslim League strategist. In 2004, TK Hamsa of LDF gave a shock treatment to the Muslim League in the Manjeri Lok Sabha constituency. Malappuram was part of the constituency then.

The BJP is also confident that people of Malappuram would vote for Prime Minister Modi’s policies and elect its candidate Sreeprakash. Even though the saffron party won less than 8% votes in 2014, BJP still believes, despite all odds, that it could pull of a victory if a surprise consolidation worked in its favour.

 

The percentage of polling looked up by afternoon and touched 36% by 1 pm. The low turnout in the LDF strongholds in the initial stages could be worrying for MB Faisal. Polling in 11 booths was disrupted for a while after the EVMs developed technical problems.

 

Even though the results of the by-poll has no significance in the national level, it would create ripples in the state politics as it is the first election after the Pinarayi Vijayan government assumed power in last May. The CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had stated that the poll outcome would be an assessment of the state government.

 

The UDF assesses that the political situation is in its favour after a series of controversies haunting the Pinarayi Vijayan government in the run-up to the polls. The police action on Jishnu’s family and the controversies surrounding were widely discussed during the election campaign.