KOZHIKODE: It was a lazy Sunday morning and the residents of Ambalamukku at Punnassery in Kozhikode constituency were reluctantly woken up by a shrill song blaring out from a loudspeaker at the junction. The song extolled the decade-long achievements of Kozhikode sitting MP MK Raghavan. Barely a few metres away from the bustle, 66-year-old Koyakutty sat on a shop verandah reading the day’s newspaper. Indifference was writ large on his face even as UDF supporters ran around to welcome Raghavan who was slated to address a motley crowd gathered at the junction.
“I’m not going to vote this time,” said Koyakutty, a semi-skilled labourer from Punnassery. “Since demonetisation, both the real estate and construction sectors here have totally crumbled. For a person like me who ekes out a living through masonry, it has been a body blow.
And none has cared to help us recover from the plight,” Koyakkutty rued. Decibel levels soon reached its peak as Raghavan reached Ambalamukku Junction accompanied by his campaign entourage.
“My work over the past decade is an open book before you. I can assure you that if you elect me for the third time, I will not do anything that will bring shame on you,” Raghavan told the crowd amid thunderous applause.
Referring to the TV sting operation involving him, Raghavan exhorted voters to give a ‘befitting reply’ to those who were attempting to defame him.
A few kilometres away in Balussery, people along the winding, dusty roads of Kunnumpoyyil woke up to the din created by LDF candidate A Pradeepkumar’s campaign bandwagon. “There are many traditional voters of the Congress who may want to vote for a secular dispensation.
But remember, with Congress leaders defecting to the BJP in droves, your purpose will be defeated. Vote for the LDF if your mandate is for a truly secular, all-inclusive dispensation,” Pradeepkumar told the crowd.
However, not all present seemed to be impressed. “He (Pradeepkumar) may be an efficient MLA in his constituency. But what about our MLA who has focussed his entire attention only towards the urban areas of Balussery and neglected remote areas? On the other hand, the sitting MP Raghavan has done considerable work here and is also accessible,” said Latheef, a driver.
Meanwhile, the NDA campaign machinery is struggling to keep up the momentum. Its candidate K P Prakash Babu has landed behind bars in a case related to the attack on women during the Sabarimala agitation.
While the LDF believes it can cash in on the TV sting operation and dent Raghavan’s votes, there is also a counter argument that the episode may go in favour of the two-time MP. This can happen if the UDF succeeds in playing the victim card. The NDA, facing the charge that it has fielded a weak candidate in Kozhikode to facilitate Raghavan’s win, hopes to turn the tables by deploying Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself for campaigning in a bid to shed that image.