Bypolls to five Assembly seats in Kerala on Monday

 the Congress-led UDF and CPM-led LDF are accusing each other of triggering religious and communal sentiments to woo voters. Photo/PTI

With the campaign for bypolls to five Assembly seats in Kerala ended by Saturday, the Congress-led UDF and CPM-led LDF are accusing each other of triggering religious and communal sentiments to woo voters.

While the CPM accused the Congress of openly pooling Hindu-Nair community votes, the Congress accused that the Left Front was trying to trigger communal sentiments. Of the five seats going to the bypolls on Monday, four became vacant as sitting MLAs got elected to Lok Sabha, while Manjeswaram in Kasargod became vacant as sitting MLA died last year.

Sabarimala women entry issue prominently figured in the campaign. The ruling LDF highlighted the development initiatives being made at Sabarimala. The Congress camps countered this by claiming that more money for infrastructure development at Sabarimala was spent during their term. The BJP was in the defensive over the Sabarimala issue as it was accused of not taking any steps to bring in legislation for protecting customs of Sabarimala, even though such an assurance was made during the Lok Sabha poll campaign.

While Kerala PCC president Mullappally Ramachandran said that the UDF would win all five seats by taking advantage of the anti-incumbency factors against the state and central governments, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that the Left Front would get an upper hand as the people have felt the need for an alternative front at the centre to effectively resist BJP-RSS. Out of the five seats going to the bypolls, four were sitting seats of the Congress-led UDF and one was with Left Front.

The BJP has high hopes at Manjeswaram and Konni in Pathanamthitta. The BJP's Ravisha Thantri Kuntar came second in Manjeswaram Assembly segment of Kasargod parliamentary constituency in this Lok Sabha poll. Hence he was made the candidate at Manjeswaram. At Konni constituency, the BJP hopes to get some advantage of stirs against Sabarimala women entry issue as the seat is close to the temple. BJP state general secretary K Surendran, who led Sabarimala stirs, is contesting from Konni. He had unsuccessfully contested this Lok Sabha election from Pathanamthitta, but was hardly 500 votes behind the Left Front candidate and 3,000 votes behind the Congress candidate.

Vattiyoorkavu in Thiruvananthapuram and Aroor in Alappuzha are witnessing prestigious battles as the CPM fielded Thiruvananthapuram city mayor at Vattiyoorkavu, while the Congress fielded Shanimol Usman, who was the lone UDF candidate who lost the Lok Sabha poll in Kerala, at Aroor. Ernakulam in Kochi is the other seat going to the bypolls.

 

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