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PM's Kerala visit to set election ball rolling

Of the four states going to polls this year, the Congress' position is strongest in Kerala. So it is only appropriate that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the state from February 10 to 12 will mark the beginning of the United Democratic Front's campaign to wrest power from the Left Democratic Front.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2011 18:22 IST
Ramesh Babu

Of the four states going to polls this year, the Congress' position is strongest in Kerala.

So it is only appropriate that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the state from February 10 to 12 will mark the beginning of the United Democratic Front's campaign to wrest power from the Left Democratic Front.

Former chief minister Oommen Chandy, who is a possible candidate for heading the government this time too, said: "The Prime Minister will set the ball rolling. During my statewide 'yatra', the response was (more than) our expectations. The PM's trip will be a big boost to us."

On Friday, Singh will open the Kerala Development Congress in Thiruvananthapuram, organised by the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Development Studies. Here he is expected to announce a policy framework to alleviate the development crisis being faced by the state, an issue that's loaded with political overtones.

On Saturday, he will inaugurate the terminal complex of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport before leaving for New Delhi.

Apart from Kerala, the elections are due in Tamil Nadu, Assam and West Bengal.

In Tamil Nadu, the Congress is just a partner in the DMK-led alliance and the scams around spectrum and the Radia tapes have put the formation on the defensive. In West Bengal, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee is set to steal the thunder. And in Assam Congress CM Tarun Gogoi is fighting a strong anti-incumbency wave, with the BJP in the ascendant.

So, given Kerala's pattern of alternating between the left and the Congress since 1977, the latter has the opportunity to make a pitch for returning to power.