Heavy rains lashed several parts of Maharashtra and Kerala as polling began in the two states on Monday morning. Braving heavy downpour, early voters queued up at polling stations in the five assembly constituencies in Keral to cast their franchise.
A total of 9.57 lakh voters are expected to participate in the bypolls being held in Vattiyoorkavu (Thiruvananthapuram), Aroor (Alapuzha), Konni (Pathnamthitta), Ernakulam and Manjeshwaram (Kasaragod).
A total of 896 polling stations have been set up in the constituencies. According to early reports, except Manjeshwaram, it is raining heavily in the four other constituencies.
The ruling CPI(m)-led LDF, the main opposition Congress headed UDF and the BJP-NDA had put up a stiff fight to woo voters in all the five constituencies — four of which were held by the UDF and one by the LDF.
In Maharashtra, too, some areas in south Konkan, western and south central parts, and Latur and Osmanabad districts in Marathwada region witnessed drizzle early morning, an official from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
As voting began at 7 am, Mumbai and its suburbs saw overcast sky after drizzle for last two days.
The IMD has predicted thunderstorm with lightning and gusty winds at isolated places in Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Pune, Kolhapur, Satara, Sangli, Solapur, Beed and Osmanabad districts on Monday.
Though the MeT department last week announced complete withdrawal of the south-west monsoon, it said the cyclonic circulation developed off the south coast of Maharashtra was bringing rains now.
The state has 8.98 crore eligible voters to decide the fate of 3,237 candidates in fray from 288 seats. "In the morning, mostly office-goers and businessmen go to polling booths on their own. But, in the later half of the day, parties have to make some extra efforts to urge people to come out to vote," a political observer said.
"It is during later part of the day that the state has been witnessing intense showers in the last few days. If it rains today also during the day, it could lead to a drop in the voter turnout," he said.
The state recorded 63.38 per cent turnout in the 2014 Assembly polls. "We are closely observing the situation and are hopeful voters will be spared vagaries of weather," a senior election official said.