Thiruvananthapuram: Following the announcement of the poll date for the Chengannur assembly bypoll, model code of conduct has come into effect in Alappuzha district where the constituency is located.
Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines will be used in the byelection to ensure transparency and avoid controversies over the reliability of the electronic voting machines, said Tika Ram Meena, Kerala chief electoral officer.
Meena said that all the government programmes in the state will have to comply with the code from now on.
The constituency will go to polls on May 28 and the votes will be counted on May 31.
The notification for the poll will be issued on May 3 with May 10 being the last date for filing of nominations and May 14 will be the last date for withdrawal.
The announcement might affect the celebrations in connection with the second anniversary of the Pinarayi government.
The model code of conduct would imply that no popular policies can be announced as it might influence the voter's preferences.
The chief electoral officer said that communication in this regard has been conveyed to the chief secretary.
A much-awaited poll
The bypoll was necessitated following the sudden demise of sitting legislator K K Ramachandran Nair, of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) in early January.
Chengannur constituency, in the Alappuzha district, had been, except in the May 2016 assembly elections, a Congress bastion for nearly three decades.
The CPI-M has fielded its Alappuzha district secretary Saji Cheriyan, Congress has nominated long time aspirant D Vijayakumar, while the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate is its former state party chief P S Sreedharan Pillai, who in 2016 polls came a close third to the sitting Congress legislator P C Vishnunath, who lost to Nair.
The Chengannur constituency's total electorate stands at 1,88,702 besides 228 NRI voters and 164 polling stations will be set up for the election.
Campaigns that lost their way with unconfirmed dates
All the three candidates had started their campaigning last month itself, but their efforts lost steam when the date of the bypoll was not announced along with the Karnataka assembly election schedule.
"We have always been on the campaign as we knew if not today, tomorrow, it has to be announced, ... maybe the intensity was not there," said Vijayakumar.
Cheriyan, on his part, said: "We have already completed three rounds of campaign and the good thing is that the date of the poll is just before the monsoon starts."
"I have been here with my voters ever since I was named as the candidate and I have already been able to gel with them and now it's a matter of meeting each one again and pressing my case," said Pillai.