Development the key plank for fronts in Nemom

LDF, UDF looking at which way minority votes will swing, BJP confident of retaining seat

At a small neighbourhood square in Lekshmi Nagar, near the Pangode Military camp, the residents have gathered around a screen set up on a vehicle.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate V. Sivankutty for the Nemom constituency is about to arrive. The video on the screen is setting the stage for his arrival, with short skits about fuel price hike, farm bills and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). On his arrival, followed by a motorbike rally of young party workers, some of the residents shower flower petals on him as he proceeds to visit the houses.

“The LDF government’s measures have reached every household and every kitchen. So, development is the key agenda. Sitting MLA O. Rajagopal has not done anything in the past five years. He was not seen anywhere, while I have been active in all issues in the capital. I would have won last time too if the Congress had polled all its votes. Now, Mr. Rajagopal himself says that Kummanam Rajasekharan might not garner as much votes as he did and has also pointed at their alliance with the Congress last time. United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate K. Muraleedharan is not a known face here, and has not even resigned from his MP post to contest here,” Mr. Sivankutty tells The Hindu.

Closer to the coast, in Muttathara, Mr. Muraleedharan’s vehicle rally is making its way through the bylanes. Following his vehicle is a car with a life-size stuffed tiger doll resting on top, reflecting the image that the Congress is trying to project for the leader who took up the challenge to contest in the only constituency won by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kerala. He gets down, spends time with the children and meets some of the old people, who have the memory of his father K. Karunakaran contesting from here in 1982.

Two aims for UDF

“The UDF has two aims — to reclaim this constituency from the communal forces and carry out development. The LDF is forming secret alliances with communal organisations to retain power. The people have to remember that it is the BJP which will get space if the Congress is defeated. They have nothing to say against me, hence they ask me why I have not resigned the MP post. Have their MLAs resigned their posts while contesting for the Parliament? We also want to declare that the CAA will not be allowed to be implemented here,” says Mr. Muraleedharan.

BJP candidate Kummanam Rajasekharan is on a booth outreach event at Shasthri Nagar beside the Karamana river. He is on the high of the large crowd of saffron party workers who had gathered for his roadshow with BJP national president J.P. Nadda the day before. On Sunday, the party workers fanned out across the constituency distributing pamphlets listing out Mr. Rajagopal’s achievements.

₹400-cr. projects

“Mr. Rajagopal has done the kind of work which no other MLA has done, with ₹400 crore worth developmental projects. Mr. Muraleedharan coming here will not bring any plus point to the Congress, but it will only prove negative for them as he is someone who has consistently left constituencies half way through the term. As for their claims over Mr. Rajagopal’s comments, he is very much with me in this campaign and has refuted these claims. The BJP will win more seats, besides Nemom, and form a government here,” says Mr. Rajasekharan.

Development is the key campaign issue for three fronts in Nemom, with the Sabarimala issue being mentioned only as an afterthought by the candidates, when asked specifically about it.

The LDF and UDF are also keenly looking at which way the minority vote would swing, and have been extensively using the BJP’s equating of Nemom to Gujarat as a campaign plank against them. Though communal fault lines are not visible at the surface here, these certainly are simmering beneath.

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