MALAPPURAM: By-election to prestigious Malappuram constituency in Kerala went off peacefully today, registering an estimated 71.4 per cent voter turnout in the minority dominated region. Malappuram Assembly segment tops the chart with an estimated 74.5 per cent followed by Kondotty, Manjeri, Perinthalmanna, Vengara, Vallikunnu and Mankada 74.5, 74.1, 71.6, 70.9, 69.7, 69.6 and 69.4 per cent respectively. The constituency had polled 71.21 per cent votes in the 2014 general election. Polling which started at 0700 hrs on a slow pace in the initial hours, picked up later.
Main contenders for the seat were Indian Union Muslim League national General Secretary P K Kunhalikutty (UDF), CPI (M) leader M B Faizal (LDF) and Bharatiya Janata Party's Adv N Sree Prakash (NDA). Besides, six more independent candidates were also in the fray.
Kunhalikutty, representing Vengrara in the state assembly, was trying his fortune for the Lower House for the first time. Industries Minister earlier, Kunhalikutty, who contributed immensely in the coalition politics of the state, appears to be front runner in the IUML citadel.
Political observers believed that unless there was a miracle his apple cart cannot be altered. They were Adv PPA Sageer, Kunhalikutty Kulambil Padinharekara, Muhammed Musliyar N, Muhammed Faisal, A K Shaji and K Shajimon. Commeting on Kunhalikutty's chances, IUML State President Panakkad Syed Hyderali Shihab Thagal said his party candidate would improve the 194,739 votes winning margin of E Ahamed in the 2014 general election from the minority dominated constituency.
Kunhalikutty also said he would win with improved margin.
Faizal said he was hopeful of winning the election as people in the constituency favoured a change.
His party leader and former MP from Manjeri T K Hamza said whoever wins the margin would be low hinting that Kunhalikutty would not be able to walk away with a thumping majority as achieved by Ahamed. Hoping to win the poll, Sree Prakash said achievements of Narendra Modi government would reflect in the result which would be declared on April 17.
Kondotty, Mankada, Vallikkunnu, Manjeri, Malappuram, Perinthalmanna and Vengara are the Assembly constituencies under Malappuram LS segment. According to Election Commission data, the total number of voters in the constituency was 13,12,693, including 1,14,975 new voters.