THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The way Congress national leader Rahul Gandhi praised Nemom candidate K Muraleedharan, MP, effusively at his last campaign meeting at Poojapura mandapam on Sunday has clearly send the message out to the party honchos that he is a leader to reckon with. While Muraleedharan himself became emotional listening to the Gandhi scion, it has not gone down well with a section of ‘I’ group leaders in the district.
Sixty-three-year-old Muraleedharan, who is known for coming up with punch lines, coined slogans like ‘Nemom ee kaikalil kemam’ (Nemom to be the best in these hands) and ‘Nemom ini kemam’ (Nemom all set for new heights). These posters came up with pictures of Muraleedharan along with his late father K Karunakaran, who had contested from Nemom in the 1982 assembly elections.
He has said since he landed in Nemom on March 16 as a “formidable” candidate, as termed by the Congress state leadership, his only aim had been to “uproot” the BJP flag from its citadel. Muraleedharan has taken pride in the fact that he took up the challenge when other top Congress leaders shied away from taking the challenge of wresting the seat from the BJP. However, much to his chagrin, he realised that the journey would not be smooth as a section of the DCC leaders did not lend whole-hearted support in the initial stages of his campaign.
After he took the issue up with Congress general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal, the leadership took his concerns seriously. This was why Priyanka Gandhi promised to attend a road show at Nemom a day before open campaigning was to end. But when she had to go into self-isolation, Rahul Gandhi agreed to campaign for Muraleedharan.
“Rahul’s scintillating speech made up for all initial glitches Muraleedharan had faced. He could give due prominence to a seasoned leader like Muraleedharan,” UDF convener M M Hassan told TNIE.
However, the Muraleedharan camp was unhappy that Priyanka Gandhi had campaigned for V S Sivakumar, Congress candidate in Thiruvananthapuram constituency, in the coastal areas but had to cancel the corner meeting for him in Poojapura due to delayed schedule.
“We came to know that a section of the local Congress leadership had tried to prevent Muraleedharan from entering Priyanka’s car after she offered prayers at Attukal temple. Priyanka had repeatedly asked the local leaders whether Muraleedharan would be coming to the coastal areas, but he had to leave in a huff,” said a leader close to Muraleedharan.
After the polls, Muraleedharan is expected to take up this issue with the Congress leadership. Dr S S Lal and Veena S Nair, Congress candidates in Kazhakoottam and Vattiyoorkavu constituencies, were invited to Poojapura as Rahul and Priyanka had not campaigned for them. But Rahul Gandhi went on a whirlwind road show in Kazhakootam for Dr Lal after his Poojapura meeting minutes before the open campaigning ended.