: Counting of votes polled during the Apr 23 Lok Sabha polls for 20 seats in Kerala began Thursday morning amidst heavy security.
The southern state had witnessed a heavy polling of 77.68 per cent, the highest in 30 years, where the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and the opposition Congress-headed UDF put up a fierce fight to garner maximum seats.
BJP also gave a tough time for the traditional fronts at least in three seats this time, riding on the Sabarimala women entry issue.
Counting began at 8 AM at 140 centres across 29 locations in the state.
Kasaragod District Collector has imposed prohibitory orders at Kalliyot and Periya in the district, where two Youth Congress activists had been hacked to death, allegedly by CPI(M) workers in this February.
The polling officials will count the postal votes first that have been received till 8 AM this morning, Election commission sources said.
The strength of the electorate in the state is 2.61 crore.
As per the Election Commission figures, 77.68 per cent of the total of 2.61 crore electors had turned up in 24,970 polling stations across Kerala on polling day to cast their franchise.
The high range constituency Wayanad, which came into national prominence after Congress chief's Rahul Gandhi's candidature, had registered a record polling of 80.31 per cent against the 73.25 per cent registered in the 2014 elections.
It was a do-or-die battle for both the LDF and UDF in most of the 20 Lok Sabha seats this time in the state, known for its decades-long bipolar politics.
The BJP-led NDA put up a formidable challenge to the two traditional fronts in Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur constituencies.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who contested from Wayanad in addition to Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, his party colleague Shashi Tharoor, BJP leader Kummanam Rajasekharan (both Thiruvananthapuram) and Union Minister Alphons Kannamthanam (Ernakulam) were among prominent candidates in the fray.
Kannur in north Kerala had recorded the highest polling percentage of 83.05 in the April 23 polls, while the prestigious Thiruvananthapuram constituency, which saw a fierce triangular contest between Tharoor, CPI leader C Divakaran (LDF) and Rajashekharan, the percentage touched 73. 45, the lowest.
Pathnamthitta, which was the ground zero of frenzied protests on the Sabarimala women's entry issue, polled 74.19 per cent votes.
A total of 227 candidates were in the fray in the state, including 23 women.
Wayanad constituency had the maximum number of candidates-- 20 and the lowest are in Alathur in Palakkad district (6).
In the 2014 polls, 74.02 per cent votes were polled in the southern state, in which the UDF had won 12 seats, LDF 8 while BJP failed to open its account.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)