In final leg, focus shifts to the coast

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Star campaigners run the show for all three fronts

Campaigning for the general elections has reached its crescendo in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency.

Along expected lines, the coastal belt has come under prime focus with the fronts vying with one another to consolidate minority votes in the region which could prove decisive in the electoral outcome.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) has roped in star campaigners. The arrival of Congress president Rahul Gandhi has invigorated the party machinery, which has had some soul-searching to do in the wake of complaints regarding the ‘non-cooperative attitude’ of a section of leaders towards the campaign of incumbent MP Shashi Tharoor.

Antony’s tour

Congress leader A.K. Antony will continue his practice of touring the coastal areas a few days prior to the election to ensure that the party’s coastal vote bank remains intact. Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha will add to the glamour quotient in the UDF campaign. According to UDF campaign programme coordinator Palode Ravi, the party’s senior leaders, including MLAs, will undertake house visits. Besides impressing on the voters the need for the change in government at the Centre, the workers will also highlight the party’s stance in the Sabarimala issue which, he said, has remained unchanged since 1991. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) campaign has been boosted by a well-oiled machinery that appears to have learned lessons from the setback of the 2014 elections.

Besides gaining an early-bird advantage, the LDF has fielded a host of prominent leaders including CPI(M) general secretary Sitharam Yechury, CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for an aggressive campaign strategy to boost their candidate C. Divakaran’s chances.

Left’s motorcycle rallies

CPI district secretary G.R. Anil, also the secretary of the LDF Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency election committee, said mass rallies planned along the coastal belt will mark the conclusion of the campaign. Thousands of political activists will take part in the motorcycle rallies.

The LDF camp has also decided to refrain from organising public programmes and to instead focus on a door-to-door campaign on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (April 18 and 19), taking into account the religious sentiments of the Christian community.

BJP’s plans

Despite being a late entrant in the campaign scene, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has emerged a serious contender in the constituency. BJP State secretary J.R. Padmakumar attributes the rapid surge in campaign momentum to its organisational work at the grass roots level in advance. “The timing of the candidature declaration turned out to be irrelevant. The party had launched an intense campaign at the booth committee level, particularly in pockets where we wielded considerable influence. Combined with the candidate Kummanam Rajasekharan’s popular appeal, all factors auger well for us this time around,” he said.

The BJP remain confident of a resurgence with the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is credited with having created an instant impact among fisherfolk in the aftermath of the Cyclone Ockhi.

Besides, an added emphasis on the Sabarimala issue during the final phase of their campaign is viewed as a vigorous attempt to sway a chunk of the Nair community vote base.

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