ALATHUR: The Alathur Lok Sabha (Reserved) seat comprising seven Assembly segments spread across two districts - four in Palakkad, with farm labourers making up the electorate and three in Thrissur - is witnessing a fiery political battle among the three main contenders.
LDF’s sitting MP PK Biju, who is seeking fresh mandate from the constituency which sent him to the Lower House back-to-back, is up against UDF’s Remya Haridas and TV Babu of the NDA. Though Remya’s surprise candidature has set the stage for a spirited contest here, the general feeling is that Biju has his nose just ahead in the race.
Manikantan is a survivor of the deadly landslide in Aluvassery, Nenmara which was triggered by mid-August’s floods. He is still put up in the Irrigation Department quarters at Ayanampadam after the deluge destroyed his home.
“I drive an autorickshaw for a living. Today I went to the village office in Nenmara for remitting the tax of the house which has been built by the Bethlehem school in three cents. Only if I produce the tax receipt can I do the ‘pokkuvaravu’. But they told me the tax can be remitted only only after the elections,” said Manikantan.
According to him, his top priority now is to have a home. Hence, he will vote for those who facilitate it.
KT Ramakrishnan, a paddy farmer from Vandithavalam, said, “Remya Haridas is a better candidate compared to the one fielded by the Congress last time. PK Biju is not seen in the constituency,” Fr Albert Anandraj, founder president of the Right Bank Canal (RBC) movement said, “Our main demand is the availability of potable water. By next week we will decide whom to support.”
Sandhya Mannath, Cheruthuruthy PNNM Ayurveda College director, said, “Since we have given two terms to Biju, I feel we should give a chance to Remya Haridas.” According to research scholar P Aravind of Wadakkancherry, PK Biju has a slight edge in the coming polls.
Since Remya Haridas has proved to be a tough opponent, the LDF has galvanised the booth- level work. Only Chittur and Wadakkancherry segments will be able to help the Congress while Tarur, Nenmara,Kunnamkulam and Chelakkara will support the LDF. Remya, who is busy campaigning in Nenmara, says the elections should be fought on issues like development.
“Remya, who draws crowds with her folk songs, has ensured a good turnout. The anti-Remya remarks has helped her remain in the public eye,” said Manoop, who works as a stringer for local TV channels.
PK Biju believes the UDF is trying to divert the agenda. He stresses on the Rs 2,206 crore development work carried out in the constituency in the last 10 years. NDA candidate T V Babu track record has endeared him to the public.