Thiruvananthapuram: All eyes are on the four northern districts of Kerala where the third and final phase of the local body elections will be held on Monday.
Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kannur and Kasaragod districts will go to the polls on Monday.
The average polling recorded in the first two phases is 74.84 per cent and it remains to be seen whether the third phase will see a higher voter turnout. Over 77 per cent polling was recorded in all four districts in 2015.
But the third phase has more sensitive booths than the first 10 districts. In Kannur district alone, there are 785 such booths.
The Kozhikode and Kannur district panchayats are currently with the Left Democratic Front (LDF), while the United Democratic Front (UDF) is ruling Kasaragod and Malappuram. Among the corporations, the challenge for the LDF is to retain Kozhikode, while the UDF tries to hold on to Kannur.
The UDF has been able to dismantle the LDF hopes of getting an ‘easy walkover’ in the district panchayat and corporation in Kozhikode. The Congress-led front is giving a tough contest to the Left. The BJP too has made its presence felt with dedicated groundwork.
In the district panchayat, the verdict would be decided on the neck-and-neck contest at the six divisions.
The support of Welfare Party and RMP has strengthened the UDF, while the LDF has benefited by the return of the LJD.
The UDF is confident of making a headway in Malappuram district, a Muslim League stronghold.
The LDF is trying to improve its numbers in the district panchayat (30-2 in 2010 and 27-5 in 2015). The absence of a people's alliance (dubbed as Sambar Alliance), that posed a challenge to the League at several places in 2015, has also boosted the UDF confidence.
The BJP, that came second in the Tanur municipality last time, is also trying to improve its numbers at certain municipalities.
The LDF is optimistic of its chances in the district panchayat, while the UDF is pinning its hopes on the corporation. The LDF had won all the 11 block panchayats in 2015. It would not be easy for the UDF to make a dent in the LDF dominance in block and grama panchayats. The NDA, which has only 31 members in the local bodies in the district, is also looking to improve its numbers.
The Left front is putting up a tough fight in the district panchayat, which is ruled by the UDF. Among the municipalities, the UDF is hopeful of retaining Kasaragod and claiming Kanhangad, while the LDF is optimistic that Neeleswaram and Kanhangad will side with the Left.
However, it cannot be said how the arrest of M C Kamaruddin and Periya case, issues which emerged in Kasaragod and had a state-wide resonance, would impact the election in the district itself.
The BJP is also raising a tough challenge to both the fronts at municipalities and border villages.
Three to five technical experts would be present in each counting room for providing real-time updates. The data would be uploaded on a software, Trend, in real-time.
One counting table would be set up for a maximum of eight polling stations. But votes of all the polling stations in one ward would be counted at the same table. The counting would follow the chronological order, beginning from the first ward. The control units of the voting machines would be brought from the strong rooms based on this.
The postal ballots would be counted first at the returning officer's table.