High voltage campaign ends in Kerala; house visits to begin for April 23 poll

High voltage campaign ends in Kerala; house visits to begin for April 23 poll


The hustle and bustle of the April 23 election campaign ended this evening in the State and parties will now get into squad work moving to houses of voters in the 20 Lok Sabha constituencies.

This, political party activists believe, will help get a clearer picture of their prospects. The three fronts, LDF, UDF and the BJP's NDA, have much at stake. For the ruling LDF, which went way ahead in its campaign initially, has down the line had a number of issues to surmount, from Sabarimala to the yet-to-happen post-flood rebuilding.

The UDF appears to be sitting on a prettier position with anti-incumbency against the LDF Government to its advantage. Moreover, the candidature of Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad brought together the warring Congress factions and to a certain extent created a facade of unity.

Both these fronts have tried creating an impression that the contest is between them and have focused on an anti-BJP campaign. With both Rahul and his sister Priyanka going soft on LDF, the CPM and its allies were left on the defensive. As far as the BJP is concerned, it is yet to open its account and so has nothing to lose in the battle. The Sabarimala issue has been its focal point and it pins its hopes on Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur. The candidature of actor Suresh Gopi, MP, from Thrissur has given the contest a triangular dimension.

Ironically, if its ally BDJS put up its strongest leader Thushar Vellappally against Rahul in Wayanad, neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor BJP president Amit Shah made it to Wayanad for the campaign.

BJP pins its hopes on Kummanam Rajasekharan, the party leader who quit as Governor of Mizoram to contest from Thiruvanthapuram against Congress leader Sashi Tharoor, who is eyeing a hat-trick. A number of pre-poll surveys have given Kummanam a slight edge. But Left sources admit, though on condition of anonymity, that sensing the mood, votes may go for Tharoor to 'ensure’ Kummanam's defeat.

The LDF is facing a tough time in constituencies where its star leaders P Jayarajan in Vadakara, P Rajeev and KN Balagopal in Kollam are in the race. Kerala has a total of 2,61,51,534 voters of which 1,34,66,521 are females and 174 transgenders. There are 831 booths which have been listed as trouble-torn and 359 are more prone to violence, chief electoral officer Teeka Ram Meena said on Sunday. As many as 57 companies of central forces have been deployed in Kerala.

Voting will take place on Tuesday from 7 am to 6 pm. A mock polling is to be held in the presence of polling agents of the booth from 6 am on the polling day to make sure that there were no technical glitches.