He is called “St Antony” for being soft-spoken and humble, and above all his clean image. But now the aggressive face of union defence minister AK Antony is revealing itself.
After having pitched a tent here, he has covered all the 14 districts of the state over the past 11 days, attacking Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan fiercely on every stage.
Antony, who has also been Kerala CM thrice, is not a firebrand orator. But because of his crisp words, th e crowd is taken in in no time. He knows it well that that the neutral voter, who usually decides the swing (in Kerala the winner-loser margin is always less 5%), will go by the eleventh-hour drama and heat. So he loads his every word with power and punch. While “unmasking” the current CM, he makes it very clear he’s not doing it out of any personal animosity but only to prove a political point.
On the concluding day (campaigning for the April 13 poll ends on Monday evening), he took out a roadshow covering coastal hamlets and urban areas of the capital city (in the last LS election his roadshow helped Shashi Tharoor to increase his majority).
“You want a Bengal here? In Kerala more than 70% of the workforce is from that state. The three-decade left rule has ruined West Bengal beyond repair,” he says.
He tells women voters, who turned out in large numbers, to exercise their franchise judiciously.
As his entourage (more than 300 two-wheelers and cars) winds through the narrow lanes (densely populated, even the National Highway is not more than 30-foot-wide in the state), he takes out a piece of paper from his drenched ‘khadi’ shirt. Quoting figures, he says: “He (Achuthanandan) says he’ll handcuff all sexual offenders. But in the last five years he failed to solve a single case.” When other states are talking big about development and high-end technology, the CM is chasing two-decade-old sex scandals, he adds.