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Rains to play spoilsport

PTI | BySanu George, Indo-Asian News Service, Thiruvananthapuram
May 05, 2004 05:19 PM IST

Top leaders from different political parties are to visit Kerala this month. Heading the list are PM Vajpayee and Sonia Gandhi. But rains may play the spoilsport.

Top Indian politicians are headed down south to brighten the poll campaign in Kerala this week. But a mighty adversary could pour water on their plans - the rains.

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Among those slated to arrive are Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Former prime ministers VP Singh and HD Deva Gowda will also visit the state.

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While that has made the spirits soar for candidates who are running for the 20 Lok Sabha seats from the state, the rains could be a dampener.

Campaigning for the May 10 parliamentary polls ends Saturday. But the meteorological office here has predicted downpours in the next two to three days.

Gandhi would be the first of the top leaders to come. Arriving here at 10 a.m. Wednesday, she will address meetings in this city as well as Thiruvalla, Ernakulam and Kozhikode.

Vajpayee will come Saturday and is expected to address public meetings here and in Muvattupuzha.

His deputy LK Advani, whose countrywide campaign tour passed through most parts of the state, is also to campaign in Kerala.

Singh and Gowda will campaign in Kozhikode for Janata Dal (Secular) candidate MP Veerendara Kumar later in the week.

While candidates from all parties are in a buoyant mood over the visit of these top leaders, their only concern is the rains.

In the last two days, Kerala has witnessed heavy downpours. The Kochi airport recorded 11 cm of rain and the weather forecast predicts that the skies would open up in almost all districts.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front, which was late to begin its campaign, is pinning a lot of hopes on Sonia Gandhi's visit.

But with her earlier two-day schedule now cut short by a day, several candidates appear crestfallen.

Particularly concerned is Jose K Mani, son of state revenue minister who is engaged in one of the most fierce three-cornered battles at Muvattupuzha. PC Thomas, the central minister, and PM Ismail of the CPI(M) are the candidates running against him.

Mani has reason to worry. No less than Vajpayee will address a meeting in Muvattupuzha.

The Prime Minister will also attend a rally in this state capital where the fight is between central minister O Rajagopal of the Bharatiya Janata Party, former chief minister PK Vasudevan Nair and Congress MP in the last parliament VS Sivakumar.

If the rains do come as predicted, then these leaders could well expect the crowds to keep away, particularly as the election mood in Kerala has anyway been lacklustre.

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