KOTTAYAM: As has been the case throughout, the high-profile Kottayam LS constituency - that occupies the pride of place in central Travancore and which has witnessed several keenly- fought electoral battles - is the setting for a spirited three-cornered contest involving the UDF, LDF and the NDA in the coming polls.
While the UDF has fielded Thomas Chazhikadan, the LDF put up V N Vasavan, with P C Thomas contesting as the NDA candidate. Beyond the poll dynamics, the unrelenting summer heat is something the candidates and the parties indeed have to factor in. Travelling across the district, one comes municipalities and villages baking under the fierce sun.
This comes at a time when the poll campaign has peaked.
The ‘Meenachood’ (scorching heat in the Malayalam month of Meenam) impact is such that majority of the candidates have stopped campaign tours on board open vehicles during 11 am-3 pm when the atmospheric temperature peaks. However, the punishing heat has failed to dumb down voters who look forward to the democratic exercise to have their say on major issues affecting them.
But a familiar face, who rode like a colossus during the elections held in the last 70 years, will sadly be missed at the hustings this time - Kerala Congress(M) supremo, the late, K M Mani - who set a national record by being the longest serving MLA with an unbroken tenure.
K M Mani’s demise had disrupted campaigning in the district for a couple of days and his absence is quite likely to affect the poll scenario.
Since the voters in central Travancore are comparatively politically aware, they will consider a range of issues, before heading to the polls. This was evident from the heated discussions at the Thirunakkara taxistand here.
“The Narendra Modi Government has broken the back of the taxi drivers.” said, Sajan Philip, a taxi driver.
Biju Joseph, a farmer, from Meenachil near Pala, is disappointed issues like fall in rubber prices are not getting importance. “Rubber farmers to a certain extent were satisfied with the incentive scheme introduced by former Finance Minister K M Mani, which ensured at least Rs 150 per kg for rubber. Many of the farmers are not getting subsidy amount for quite a while, which will certainly reflect in the election in the heartland of rubber,” he said.
Owing to the grave situation encountered by them, traders are actively seeking a change of guard at the Centre. Since, the NDA is not a major force in Kottayam, the choice is between the UDF and the LDF. But, considering the general talk that the Left will extend its support to the Congress at the Centre to keep Team Modi away from power, the contest is a bit tough in Kottayam, as the voters are keeping their cards close to the chest till D-Day.
Candidates of the three major political fronts are focusing more on development, with the UDF highlighting the national projects brought In a constituency where Christian voters, especially Roman Catholics, have the upper hand, communal equations too will prove crucial.