Repeat or remove? Lakshadweep to take the call

The Congress, which won 12 general elections here before suffering defeat, hopes to regain lost ground this time.
Repeat or remove? Lakshadweep to take the call

The electoral showdown in Lakshadweep, comprising 36 islets in the Arabian Sea and boasting the smallest electorate, has garnered attention due to the islanders’ growing dissatisfaction with the unpopular reforms spearheaded by Praful Khoda Patel, the political appointee leading the island’s administration.

The National Congress Party-Sharadchandra Pawar (NCP-SP) and Congress vie for dominance here for the lone Lok Sabha seat. Lakshadweep, which goes to polls in the first phase on Friday, has just 57,784 voters. However, aware that each vote counts, the parties had conducted intense campaigning, wrapping it all up with the kalashakottu on Wednesday.

Like in the 2014 and 2019 general elections, the contest is yet again between sitting MP Muhammed Faizal P P of the NCP-SP and Muhammed Hamdulla Sayeed of the Congress, both from Androth. However, in the NCP(SP) vs Congress fight, the NCP faction led by Ajith Pawar has fielded T P Yousuf, who may play spoilsport for Faizal.

The Congress, which won 12 general elections here before suffering defeat, hopes to regain lost ground this time. Its leadership vouches that recent political unrest will make Lakshadweep voters stay loyal to the party> It also expects the young to vote for “change.”

“We are upbeat. We expect voters to return us to power,” says M I Attakoya, Lakshadweep DCC president. The party expects the anti-incumbency factor to play out and its campaigns constantly harped on MP Faizal’s failure in making effective interventions with the Centre since December 2020 when Patel assumed charge as administrator. “Our poll plank was Faizal’s failure as MP in the past 10 years. The administration is taking away people’s land. Education is another area of concern,” Attakoya says.

However, NCP-SP argues it was Faizal who led the legal battle against the administration. “Congress is distorting facts. In fact, when ‘Save Lakshadweep Forum’, a joint movement, was planned earlier for the island’s cause, Congress attempted to scuttle it by refusing to join,” says Komalam Koya, a prominent NCP leader.

A former panchayat vice-president says NCP-SP’s attempt is to portray itself as the party leading the protests against the administration’s policies. “How it manages to cover up the stagnancy in development in the past three years and convince voters of a brighter future is crucial for it,” the leader says.

However, there is a section backing the MP to score a hat-trick, saying it was he who took an “anti-BJP, anti-Centre stance.” “Though against Faizal initially, CPM and CPI later backed him due to his anti-BJP stance,” says K P Mohammed Salem, CPM media coordinator, Androth. So, will Faizal get another chance or will Lakshadweep opt for a different face as its representative?

It all comes down to Friday.

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