Rival Ker fronts pin hope on last-minute swing

PTI | ByPress Trust of India, Thiruvananthapuram
May 09, 2004 03:05 PM IST

Both UDF and LDF are hoping of a last-minute swing in their favour, while BJP expects to open its account in the state.

With no wave palpable in the air, Kerala's main political players, Congress-led UDF and the CPI-M controlled LDF, are pinning hopes on the last-minute swing in their favour and the BJP harbouring high expectations of opening its account through Union minister O Rajagopal in the state capital, as arrangements are in place for tomorow's vote after the long but largely peaceful campaigning.

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As the din and bustle of the run-up ended last evening, the picture showed that a majority of the 20 Lok Sabha seats are witnessing neck and neck race making predictions a high risk gamble.

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Voters in Wadakkancherry assembly segment in Thrissur district are also voting for a keenly watched by-poll in which state Electricity Minister is locked in a stiff contest with his CPI-M rival A C Moideen.

While all the three formations harped on national themes the state-specific topics were also debated hotly during the run-up.

The "inevitability" of bringing Congress back to power to restore secular and democratic values was the central theme of the ruling UDF, while the LDF wanted the presence of the Left parties beefed up in Parliament to dislodge the NDA without making any compromise with "communal forces."

Despite the convergence of the national goal, the leaders of the rival fronts did not show any leniency to each other as the run-up was witness to fierce wordy duels between Chief Minister A K Antony and CPI-M strongman and opposition leader V S Achuthanandan even over their political lingo.

Missing from the election scene this time is the lively presence of CPI-M veteran and former chief Minister E K Nayanar, who is undergoing treatment in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi.

Prominent personalities seeking electoral fortune include union minister and IFDP leader P C Thomas in Muvattupuzha, Janata Dal state President M P Veerendrakumar in Kozhikode, Indian Unions Muslim League General Secretary E Ahmed in Ponnani, former union ministers S Krishnakumar in Mavelikkara and Mullappally Ramachandran in Kannur and Karunakaran's daughter Padmaja Venugopal in Mukundapuram.

While the LDF has fielded eight of its members in the last Lok Sabha, five Congress members are back in the fray.

In the UDF, the Congress is contesting 17 seats leaving two to its ally Indian Union Muslim League and one to Kerala Congress-Mani KEC(M). In the LDF camp, CPI-M has put up 15 aspirtants, CPI three, Kerala Congress one and LDF independent one.

The total 177 aspirants in the fray included quite a few independents and those of the political fringe like Rashtriya Mahasabha led by tribal leader C K Janu and CPI-ML nominees in half-a-dozen seats.

According to Director General of Police P K Hormes Taharakan, out of the 20,342 polling booths, 1904 have been identified as "sensitive" and 30,000 police personnel of the state police and additional personnel from central forces have been deployed for the peaceful conduct of the polls. PTI NM PB KC 05091227 D

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