Kerala polls: Parties upbeat amid last-leg campaigning

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 13: The heat is on in Kerala and the political parties are adding to it. With the assembly election slated for May 16 (Monday) in the state, parties are sparing no effort to reach out to the voters in the last leg of campaigning.

Amid the election frenzy, the rival combinations of parties are claiming they will win the polls. While the Left Democratic Front (LDF) believes history will repeat in the state and it will rout the ruling dispensation, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) is certain it will overcome the anti-incumbency factor.

Kerala polls: Parties upbeat amid last-leg campaigning.
"There is disenchantment in the state against the UDF government, which is corrupt. We are confident that we will win over 100 seats in the 140-member assembly," said opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

The mood is equally upbeat in the Congress-led UDF camp. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said: "We will create history by returning to power. No government in the state's history has achieved as much as we achieved in the last five years. We are united like never before."

But as political observers here point out, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies could be the decisive factors in several assembly constituencies and make things difficult for both UDF and LDF.

The BJP has never won a seat in the state. But the saffron outfit is hopeful it will open its account this time. The party's aspiration has been buoyed by its alliance with the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) which has been launched by influential Hindu Ezhava leader Vellapalli Natesan.

"We are on a strong footing this time. We will create history," said state BJP president Kummanem Rajasekheran. His faith is based on the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many union ministers campaigned in the state, and party president Amit Shah have been camping for the last several days.

However, the Congress dismissed the BJP's confidence, saying the saffron alliance will have no impact.

"The tie-up between the BJP and the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena will be washed out. They will have no impact on the voters," said state Congress president V.M. Sudheeran.

Similar views have been expressed by the Left camp which is banking on the charisma of its nonagenarian leader V.S. Achuthanandan and CPI-M politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan.

Notable candidates from the UDF include Chief Minister Chandy, state Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala and former finance minister K.M. Mani.

Top contenders from the Left Democratic Front include former chief minister Achuthanandan and Vijayan.

Besides state president Rajasekheran, the BJP has fielded former union minister O. Rajagopal, and former state party presidents V. Muraleedharan, C.K.P. Padmanabhan, P.K. Krishna Das and P.S. Sreedharan Pillai among others.

In all, the BJP is contesting in 98 seats, the Congress in 87 seats and the CPI-M in 85 seats. There are 782 independent candidates.

A total of 1,203 contestants, including 109 women, are in the fray.

About 2,61,06,422 registered voters will exercise their franchise.

IANS

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