Battle royale: Capital to witness tight three-cornered fight

The closely-fought contest between the UDF, LDF and the NDA has catapulted their candidates into national limelight; none ready to take a call on the results

Published: 23rd April 2019 04:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd April 2019 04:09 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: History is sure to stand witness to the intense electoral battle unfolding in Thiruvananthapuram this time. The three-cornered fight has catapulted its candidates into the national limelight, with none being able to predict which way the votes will swing.

The state capital where diplomat-turned-politician Shashi Tharoor seeks a third term against BJP’s Kummanam Rajasekharan and CPI strongman C Divakaran, is all set for a photo finish. With Sabarimala chorusing all through the campaigning with both covert and overt references, it is sure to be an extremely tight context.

While Tharoor is looking  for a hat-trick, BJP hopes to create history by winning its first-ever LS seat from Kerala.The Left is on an all-out campaign to wrest back the seat. Which ever the way it swings, it’s sure to remain in public memory as one of the most exhaustive and elaborate electoral fights in Kerala’s parliamentary history.

FOLLOW OUR ELECTIONS COVERAGE HERE

On the eve of the crucial election, the fronts are engaged in last minute strategising and calculations. Different permutations and combinations are being worked out, keeping in mind swaying vote patterns and last minute undercurrents. With the BJP camp heavily banking upon the Sabarimala factor, minority consolidation and anti-Modi votes are what the UDF has been hoping to reap.

Sabarimala takes centre stage

Though the UDF camp started off on a confident note with the sitting MP sure of making it this time too, things have taken a turn with Sabarimala issue taking centre-stage. Though a portion of anti-Left votes could go to UDF on account of Sabarimala, the saffron party could stand to gain in the end.“It’s evident that a section of voters feel antagonistic against the Left over the Sabarimala issue. They want to teach the LDF government a lesson. There’s no point in reasoning with them. We hence have to look at areas to compensate the same,” said sources in the Tharoor camp. The UDF has been focusing on the coastal regions and rural voters.

The BJP’s huge increase in vote share in the last election -  from 11.4 per cent in 2009 to 32.32 per cent in 2014 - is a worrying factor for both fronts.Last time around, despite a weak Left candidate in Bennet Abraham, Tharoor’s margin had gone down drastically from around one lakh in 2009 to just 15,470 in 2009.Taking a cue from last time, this time the BJP has given special attention to the coastal regions too. “We have been able to create some inroads into the coastal belt after the union government’s positive measures following the Ockhi disaster.

Similarly, the party has made some substantial improvement in rural pockets also,” said a senior BJP leader.Unlike last time, the Left is all set for a strong fight with the CPM machinery conducting a well-oiled campaign to ensure no leakage of votes or cross voting. The Left camp has taken enough measures to prevent cross-voting and any leakage in votes. The CPM leadership is highly confident of Divakaran wresting back the seat this time.All three fronts are hopeful that the voting percentage of 68.3 per cent in the last election will increase this time.

EC ensures stringent security for electronic voting machines

Kochi: The Election Commission has provided fool-proof security cover to the strong rooms where the polling machines will be stored till the results. EC has set up 257 strong rooms all over Kerala which will be under three-tier security where the voting machines will be placed till May 23, the counting day. “The CRPF will control the security inside the strong room premises while armed police personnel will be deployed around the strong room. Besides these, civil police officers will be deployed where the strong rooms are located. For each strong rooms nearly 150 security staff will be deployed,”said Ernakulam District Collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla who has arranged two major strong rooms at CUSAT and Kalamassery Government Polytechnic. The Election Commission is also planning to increase the security of the strong rooms by deploying additional force. “If needed more force will be deployed,” said a top election officer seeking anonymity.

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