KOCHI: Tell the facts, hear the voters and avoid the noise. This has been the strategy adopted by the Left front during the election campaigning in all the five constituencies going to the polls next week, and it seems to be working too. Consider this: On Tuesday alone, at least four ministers -- KK Shailaja, C Raveendranath, AK Balan and VS Sunilkumar -- were in different parts of Ernakulam constituency, meeting the voters through direct visits to their homes or touring a small region of the constituency.
A similar strategy has been adopted in other constituencies as well. For instance, Ministers K T Jaleel, P Thilothaman, Thomas Isaac, G Sudhakaran, LDF leaders Elamaram Karim, C K Nanu, K E Ismail, Suresh Kurup, Innocent, etc. are meeting voters and addressing small gatherings in Aroor, where CPM’s Manu C Pulikkal is pitted against Shanimol Usman of the Congress and NDA’s K P Prakash Babu.
Public meetings are addressed mostly by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan while ministers and other senior leaders are attending the door-to-door campaigns and small family gatherings. The problem, however, is that are they allowed to give assurances and promises on various issues concerning the public in these private meetings. Sebastian Paul pointed out that this strategy was not new and said it can be executed only in by-elections.
“This strategy of directly contacting voters, especially the women voters, was done even during 1998. Those days, it was very difficult to enter a flat complex. And we were able to enter the premises and meet the voters directly,” he recollected. Paul won the election beating Lino Jacob of the Congress by a margin of 3,940 votes from the constituency, considered a UDF bastion.
“The good thing in such meetings and family gatherings is that ministers are available to listen to and address the voters’ grievances. This gives the voters a feeling that there is someone in the government who has at least listened to their problems,” said Paul, who also had won the Ernakulam Lok Sabha by-election in 2003, against the odds.
C N Mohanan, CPM’s Ernakulam district secretary, said this has also been the party’s strategy. “But this time, we have taken a conscious decision not to make much noise, and convey our message directly to voters. This strategy is adopted across the state,” he explained.
A political analyst said though UDF leaders are also engaging with the voters directly through family gatherings and other small group meetings, the advantage for the LDF is that the ministers can provide assurances to look into their grievances and even take steps using the government machinery at their disposal to take voters into confidence. “For the Left, the by-election in Pala has given them the real confidence, and this is giving them the energy for an all-out campaign,” he said.
Top leaders/ministers in 5 constituencies on Tuesday
Aroor - Thomas Isaac, A C Moideen, K T Jaleel, Mercykutty Amma
Ernakulam - K K Shailaja, C Raveendranath, A K Balan, V S Sunilkumar
Vattiyoorkkavu - Kanam Rajendran, A Vijayaraghavan, V Sasi (deputy speaker)
Konni - Pinarayi Vijayan, M M Mani
Manjeshwar - Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, E P Jayarajan