PALA: With open campaigning for the Pala byelection drawing to a close on Friday — a good 24 hours ahead of the Election Commission deadline after the political parties agreed to wind up electioneering early since it is Sree Narayanu Guru’s death anniversary on Saturday — canvassing for votes has reached a crescendo. And vehicles of MPs, MLAs and political leaders are crisscrossing the constituency in a frantic bid to make the most of the remaining time.
In a marked shift from the earlier rounds, the final phase of campaigning witnessed the major contenders going for the jugular. While the main Opposition UDF campaigned on several planks, including Sabarimala and corruption claims against the state government, the ruling LDF in a bid to counter this is planning to arrest former Works Minister and IUML leader V K Ebrahim Kunju in the Palarivattom flyover corruption case.
The UDF has raised Sabarimala issue in the final phase with a clear political reckoning, which is to ensure the Hindu votes fall into its kitty along with those of the traditional Catholic vote bank. This apart, alleged corruption and scams of the LDF Government, especially in the case of KIIFB and PSC recruitment are being played up by the UDF.
As the campaign is drawing to a close, the UDF to a certain extent could have a slight edge in the issue- based campaign. Moreover, the UDF succeeded in getting its entire leadership to campaign in Pala. Putting aside inner party issues, KC (M) working chairman P J Joseph and his close confidant Mons Joseph also attended the election campaign of UDF candidate Jose Tom.
“The composition of the constituency is favourable to the UDF. Though we started our campaign with some negative factors, we manage to successfully resolve the issues and move ahead unitedly. We are far ahead in campaigning compared to the others. Meanwhile, the state government failed miserably in addressing the concerns of the people and hence there is strong anti-incumbency factor,” said Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, UDF’s election committee chairman.
The LDF’s, especially that of the CPM’s entire machinery is in Pala for coordinating its candidate Mani C Kappan’s campaign. The Chief Minister himself is camping in the constituency to lead the campaign in the final phase. Meanwhile, to counter the UDF’s all-out attack, the LDF has decided to train its guns on former Works Minister V K Ebrahim Kunju. Though, the government decided to put on hold Ebrahim Kunju’s arrest, it succeeded in linking UDF leaders with the alleged corruption.
Moreover, the CPM is pinning hopes on a sympathy wave in favour of Mani C Kappan, who had lost three back-to-back elections from Pala. “The general trend among people is favourable for Kappan who was defeated thrice. Voters are also weighing the prospect of sending a representative to the Assembly, who can usher in development in the constituency,” said V N Vasavan, CPM district secretary.
The BJP-NDA, which has fielded N Hari from the seat, is betting big on the welfare projects rolled out by the Narendra Modi Government at the Centre. And the campaign is being led by BJP national leaders, including Sunil Deodhar, P Muraleedhara Rao and Union Minister of State V Muraleedharan. BJP has also brought in its entire state leadership to the constituency. Thushar Vellappally, state chief of BDJS, has been roped in by the NDA combine to limit the fallout of SNDP supremo Vellappally Natesan’s praise for the LDF candidate.