TRIPUNITHURA: LDF, which has placed faith in M Swaraj, will have to prove Sabarimala is a forgotten issue.UDF is expecting a comeback with K Babu being given a clean chit in bar bribery case.NDA, which also has a point to prove. is hopeful of increasing its vote share this poll
While entering the temple town of Tripunithura, the intensity of the electoral battle is palpable. For the state’s three major political alliances consider the assembly election results crucial in deciding their future courses. The LDF, which has placed faith in M Swaraj again, will have to prove that Sabarimala is a forgotten issue for the voters as Tripunithura is among the areas where the Left faces the devotees’ wrath.For the UDF, it is a prestigious affair. It has fielded five-time MLA K Babu, who tasted defeat last time, neglecting strong opposition from a section of party leaders. The NDA also has a point to prove, and aim to take advantage of a favourable situation.
In the 2016 polls, NDA candidate Thuravoor Viswambharan polled 29,843 votes -- a vital factor resulting in the defeat of Babu. With K S Radhakrishnan -- former Public Service Commission chairman and BJP state vice-president -- in the fray this time, the front is keen to ensure a higher vote share to win. In the 49-member Tripunithura municipality, the NDA has 15 members, making it the main opposition. That has given NDA the confidence that the percentage would increase this election.
The respective candidates of the UDF, LDF and the NDA were out meeting voters in Tripunithura town on Thursday with campaigning moving into the final lap. At the famed Statue Junction, discussions revolved around election trends.
“K Babu will win this time. His opponents are saying he will be defeated by 20,000 votes. But, even when he was facing charges of bar bribery in 2016, he lost by just 4,467 votes. Now, he has been given a clean chit and is back in the thick of things,” said Shibu, an autorickshaw driver from Eroor.
Subhash, another driver who joined the conversation, said that everyone can access Babu and present their problems.
“He intervenes to settle them even if they are minor ones,” Subhash said. Even CPM cadre will vote for Babu considering his simplicity, Shibu added.However, Devi Lakshmi, an MSc Botany student, said Swaraj will retain the seat. “The LDF will retain the constituency as Swaraj has done good work for the development of Tripunithura. For his initiatives, he will garner votes from all sections of people,” she said.
T K Santhosh, a resident of Kannankulangara, felt Radhakrishnan will increase BJP’s vote share and thereby help Swaraj win. “Radhakrishnan will cut into the votes of both UDF and LDF. As he belongs to the Dheevara community, which has considerable influence in the constituency especially in areas like Udayamperoor and Panangadu, he may get votes from the community which usually supports the Left,” he said.
The UDF claims that Sabarimala has become the main political discussion in the constituency known for its rich cultural heritage, with Hindu voters in majority. The LDF is projecting welfare schemes and development projects as key poll planks. The BJP too is riding on the Sabarimala sentiment.
“I am getting good response from the voters and would get the neutral votes which I lost last time,” said Babu, who was seeking votes from the traders in the town.
Swaraj countered that thought, saying people who are traditionally not sympathetic to the Left will vote for the LDF this time as they want a government headed by the Left in the state. “People want a second-term for this government because of the welfare schemes implemented by it for the people.,” he said.At the same time, Radhakrishnan claimed voters in Tripunithura will stand by the BJP this election.