Sayeed eyeing record

PTI | ByPress Trust of India, Kochi
May 07, 2004 09:18 PM IST

PM Sayeed seems confident of sailing through in the May 10 polls, even as JD-U's Pookunhi Koya, is planning to give him a good fight.

Veteran Congress leader and Deputy Speaker of the dissolved Lok Sabha, PM Sayeed, who has represented the Lakshadweep parliamentary constituency for a record 10 terms in a row,   There are two other candidates on the golden streak of Sayeed, who is also a CWC member.

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"The victory is a foregone conclusion as the Islanders are with the Congress party and they know the contributions I have made for the development of the island," says an optimistic Sayeed.

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Asserting that his victory margin would increase, Sayeed says 'I will break my own records this time. My rivals are no match for me as they have no political backing, and they have entered the election battle after retiring from government service."

The constituency, comprising over 10 inhabited islands, has an estimated population of nearly 63,000 and has been a goldmine for the Congress ever since the first elections in the islands in 1967.

Listing out his contributions, Sayeed says he was instrumental in ensuring the island territory had a good communication network with the mainland, besides ensuring adequate passenger vessels for inter-island and mainland travel, airstrip facilties etc.

Sayeed admitted that he had been camping in the islands for more than a month and had engaged in "intensive" campaign high in Lakshadweep and in 1999, about 80.21 per cent of the electorate had turned out to cast their franchise. Out of which 53.96 per cent went to Sayeed while his main opponent K P Muthukoya of the Janata Dal(U) garnered 43.28 percent.

In 1998, the percentage of voter turnout was 85.1 while during 1996 it recorded 89.04 and it was 80.7 in 1991.

Claiming that the alignment of secular parties with the Congress had increased the confidence of Dalits and the minorities, Sayeed blames two-day electioneering of Defence Minister and Janata Dal(U) national President George Fernandes last month, had boosted the confidence of the JD(U) camp, who are blaming Sayeed for the ills of the islanders.

Of the total electorate of 38,990, women number 19,145.

Except for two islands-Amini and Androth, men voters outnumber women in the other eight islands.

In the first general elections held in Lakshadweep in 1967, Sayeed, who hails from Androth island, had won by 386 votes and since then he had held on to the seat.

With only four days left for D-day, the question uppermost in the minds of the islanders is whether the election result would turn out to be a 'birthday gift' to the soft-spoken Sayeed, whose birthday falls on May 10 - election day.

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