Keen tussle in Kerala bypolls

 The Congress which held all the three seats is confident that there is no reason to suspect a sudden change of mindset in the electorate which gave the party-led UDF a thumping win in the Parliament election. However, the CPM-led ruling LDF is confident of causing upset in at least two of the three seats which have predominantly remained pro-UDF. 

 The LDF feels that the front is in better shape both in terms of unity and public appeal than it was in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections last May. The factionalism in the CPM is at a low ebb and Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan himself is leading the campaign. The CPM cadres and leaders have put in an all-out effort for the victory of the CPI candidate G Krishnaprasad in Alappuzha where he is pitted against District Congress Committee president A  A Shukkoor.
In Ernakulam, former Fisheries Minister Dominic Presentation of the Congress is confident of pulling it off against CPM’s relatively lightweight P N Seenulal. The constituency’s Christian and Muslim population hold the key to Seenulal’s winning chances, if any.

However, the mother of all battles is being witnessed in Kannur where A P Abdullakutty who was the CPM’s two-time MP and a member of the last Lok Sabha is now before the electorate as a Congress candidate. Abdullakutty was expelled by the CPM which has left no stone unturned to ensure his defeat at the hands of its firebrand leader and M V Jayarajan. The Kannur campaign had been mired by allegations of bogus voters in the voters list with the Election Commission shifting the district collector and posting central forces in the district. The LDF raised the `crippling effect’’ of the Asean agreement on the state’s economy as the main issue while the UDF countered it with the `non-performance’ of the Achuthanandan government.

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