PTI | ByJ Ramakrishnan, Press Trust of India, Adoor, Kerala
May 01, 2004 08:54 PM IST

Adoor, one of the two reserved constituencies in Kerala is witnessing a keen tussle between sitting Congress MP, Kodikkunnil Suresh and Chengara Surendran of CPI.

Adoor, one of the two reserved constituencies in Kerala is witnessing a keen tussle between sitting Congress MP, Kodikkunnil Suresh and Chengara Surendran of CPI.

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Problems concerning workers of closed cashew factories and plantations of this backward constituency are major issues confronting the candidates as they hit the campaign trail.

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Suresh, who won the seat last time with a comfortable majority of 22,006 votes defeating Surendran, is trying to retain the seat with his claim that he had effectively utilised the MP's Local Area Development Fund for the welfare of his constituents.

LDF, while alleging that the fund utilisation has been "grossly partisan", has also taken up the long-standing issue of Punalur Paper Mills which has remained closed since 1989. LDF charges Suresh, a four-time MP, with failing to 'fullfil his promise' to get factory re-opened bringing jobs back to hundreds of workers struggling for their livelihood.

Suresh registered a hat-trick win from the constituency in 1989, 1991 and 1996 tasted defeat for the first time at the hands of Surendran in 1998. However, in 1999, Suresh made a come back.

Six of seven assembly segments in the Lok Sabha constituencies are being represented by UDF - four by Congress and two by front partner Kerala Congress (B) led by State Transport Minister, R Balakrishna Pillai. Punalur is the lone assembly segment represented by the LDF.

Before the Congress began its winning spree, CPI had held on to Adoor five times since the constituency was carved out in 1967.

According to UDF campaigners, a major factor that works in Suresh's favour is the personal rapport he has established with the voters at large.

However, the 'cold-war' between Suresh and Kerala Congress (B) leader Balakrishna Pillai and his son Ganesh Kumar, MLA has caused some hitches in the initial rounds of the UDF campaigning.

Pillai and Ganesh Kumar, who represent Kottarakkara and Pathanapuram assembly segments, have refused to campaign for Suresh. The father-son duo command some influence in the area, especially among the Nair community who constitute a sizeable chunk of voters in Adoor.

However, Suresh is of the view that "Pillai" factor is unlikely to make any impact in the Christian belt in the Minister's home turf of Kottarakkara.

LDF's focus is on the 'failure' of three-year rule of UDF Government led by AK Antony. Surendran says the main question which has to be addressed is that of overall development. There are areas where electricity and safe drinking water are still a dream, he conteds.

The delay in conversion of Kollam-Punalur railway line into broad-gauge despite the centre's clearance in 1999 is another campaign theme for the LDF.

Highlighting the plight of labourers in traditional sectors like cashew and coir, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) charges that the United Democratic Front (UDF) Government's wrong policies have destroyed the traditional sector.

BJP, though not a major force in the constituency, has put up PM Velayudhan, a new face to the constituency. The party polled slightly over 43,000 votes last time.

A member of the BJP national council and the State President of the party's SC/ST wing, Velayudhan's promise to the electorate include a cultural-cum-pilgrimage tourism project with the proximity of Sabarimala in view. He holds that the scheme would help the under-developed areas of the constituency.

The main candidates have completed their first phase of campaign and are now concentrating on house to house visits. Infact, the early announcement of Surendran's candidature has helped the LDF to plan their strategy much ahead of UDF and execute it meticulously.

Adoor Lok Sabha constituency consists of Punalur, Pathanapuram, Chadayamangalam, Neduvathur, Kottarakkara, Adoor and Konni assembly segments and has about 9.40 lakhs voters.

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