The stage is set for the second phase of polling to the local bodies in Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, and Wayanad districts on Wednesday.
A little under one crore voters will exercise their right to franchise electing representatives in 8,116 wards across 451 local bodies, which include the Kochi and Thrissur Corporations, 36 municipalities, five district panchayats, 58 block panchayats, and 350 grama panchayats.
The State Election Commission has deployed 63,187 officials for polling at the 12,643 polling stations (1918 in urban areas and 10725 in rural areas).
State Police Chief Loknath Behera said that the police had taken all measures to ensure the smooth conducts of polling in the second phase. A total of 19,736 police officers including 63 deputy superintendents of police, 316 inspectors, 1,594 sub-inspectors/assistant sub-inspectors, and 17,763 civil police officers and senior CPOs. Besides, 889 home guards and 4,574 special police officers have been mobilised to ensure that the polling is conducted without any security lapse.
To meet emergencies, 765 group patrol teams will be at the ready, as also 365 patrolling teams for law and order. There will be about 60 police pickets in highly sensitive areas. Special Striking Force Groups have also been deployed at various places. There would special watch over the 1,427 booths identified as sensitive, Mr. Behera said.
Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala hoped to see a wave in favour of the UDF in the second phase of polling, “as there was one in the first phase”.
Accusing the State government of corruption, he said the people were angry listening to the stories surrounding the Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling each day. The State, he claimed, had been dragged backwards without any significant development.
Meanwhile, the CPI(M) acting State secretary A. Vijayaraghavan pinned his hopes on the track-record of the State government in good governance which he said would stand the Left front in good stead. “That apart, the people have also seen through the politics of opportunism showcased by the UDF, which has entered into unholy ties with the BJP on one hand and the Jamat e-islami on the other,” he said.
BJP State general secretary A.N. Radhakrishnan said that a ‘Modi wave’ was evident in the first phase of polling and this would continue. He alleged that the Congress was supporting the CPI(M) in rural areas and the favour was returned in urban centres. “At least in 19 wards in the Kochi Corporation, we are putting up a strong triangular fight,” he said.