Election campaign in Kerala reaches top gear

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A K Antony
A K Antony

With just 10 more days to go for the crucial Assembly elections in Kerala, it is clear now that the principal fight is between the ruling CPI-M led Left and the Congress-led UDF.

Though the BJP-led NDA, is also in the fray, they are a force to reckon in just a few seats, while in many seats they can play spoilsport to either of their principal opponents.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is the captain of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and by now he has done campaigning in 10 districts. For the UDF, it is a plethora of leaders who are leading the campaign, and for the BJP, they are heavily relying on star campaigners like Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who has visited the state two times and now all eyes are on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is expected to make a flying visit.

Political experts see the Left having an edge as it was the first to hit the campaign trail, their hashtag is “Urepu Anu LDF” (It is certain that LDF will retain power), and they appear to have got a huge boost after a few pre-poll surveys gave them the thumbs up signal which is in tune with their hashtag.

But the UDF contends that the surveys are all ‘humbug and it’s most popular leader, A.K. Antony, who arrived from Delhi early this week, have sent out a strong message to the Kerala voters, that “if the LDF retains power, Kerala is doomed as in the past five years, Vijayan has been an epitome of arrogance and absolute corruption and under no circumstances should the voters make a mistake”.

“All these smooth talks and a smiling Vijayan will last only a few more days and this is a camouflage till the voting day. People should not be misled by this sudden change of his body language,” said Antony.

But Vijayan is supremely confident after his tour of the 10 districts that he is on the road to create electoral history by retaining power.

“By and large the people have now realised that only the Left can guarantee development and also provide for a secular Kerala, by keeping out the communal and divisive forces. Just look into the huge developments that have come around in the health, education and the infrastructure sectors,” says Vijayan.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar has asked the people of Kerala, that it is time to give the BJP a chance as the state has tested both the Left and the UDF in turns.

At the 2016 Assembly polls, the BJP managed to open its account by winning one seat in the 140-member Kerala Assembly and finished second in seven constituencies.

“This time the BJP will draw a blank and they will lose the only seat that they won last time,” said Congress Lok Sabha member K. Muraleedharan, who is contesting from the Nemom seat in the state capital district, which the BJP won last time.

Even though the Congress claims they are going to form the next government, they are definitely behind the Left and the BJP when it comes to spending money in their campaigning and as a top leader was lamenting, “We just do not have the resources to beat the rivals in putting up hoardings and such campaign materials, but, people of Kerala know us and will give us the chance to form the next government,” said the top UDF leader who did not wished to be identified.

Though the Congress claims they are going to form the next government but in the heart of hearts they feel the BJP can play spoilsport, if they are able to increase their vote share from the 15.64 per cent from what they got in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Likewise another danger that is lurking around the corner for the Congress-led UDF is the growth of the BJP, as shown by the increasing vote share in recent polls. Of late there is a feeling among the Muslim community that the best party to prevent the BJP from gaining more ground in Kerala is the Left and if it becomes a reality on April 6 — the voting day, Vijayan is sure to write the electoral history and if not, then the UDF will keep the history intact that no government has retained power in Kerala.

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