Candidates push themselves harder by the day to ensure a win in the Lok Sabha polls

Ever since the poll bugle was sounded, Union Minister of State K.V. Thomas has been donning dual roles — that of a sitting MP and of UDF candidate contesting to hold on to Ernakulam Parliament constituency.

Every morning, the MP is mobbed by people seeking to raise or find solutions to problems. The Congress workers have to literally pull him from their midst to set out for campaigning by 7.30 a.m.

Since his candidature was never in doubt, Mr. Thomas had a head start over his rivals in campaigning. UDF workers claim that “Maash” (teacher), as he is popularly known for his pedagogic background, is set to wind up the third lap of campaigning that played up the developments he brought to the constituency.

Moving in his open jeep, Mr. Thomas is received at about 150 points in a normal campaign day in an Assembly constituency. In between, he takes an hour’s break to have lunch with the campaign workers.

The next phase of campaign will witness major public meetings to be attended by Congress heavyweights like AK. Antony, Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala before culminating with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on April 6.

LDF-backed Christy Fernandez might have been a bit late off the starting blocks. But the well-oiled campaign machinery of CPI (M) made up for it. They were quick to familiarise the candidate, who was alien even to party cadre in the beginning, with the electorate across the constituency.

Ever since being presented before the public in a rather unique way with the Meet Christy interactive session, the candidate had been busy with gruelling campaign that clocks around 15 hours daily. The only break in the taxing campaign in blistering heat is 30 minutes that Mr. Fernandez sits down for lunch with his poll managers. The first round of campaigning ended with the tour of Ernakulam Assembly constituency in an open jeep on Monday.

The second phase will kick start from the Kochi Assembly constituency on Tuesday. In keeping with the campaign style of a cadre party, the entire campaign programme of the candidate has been charted out with 60-80 meetings in a day. Opposition Leader V.S. Achuthanandan was here on Monday campaigning for Mr. Fernandez. CPI (M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and general secretary Prakash Karat will follow suit in the days to come.

BJP candidate A.N. Radhakrishnan has been campaigning daily with ‘sound’ for almost 15 hours and then without sound for another two hours, as microphones had to be switched off at 10 p.m.

Seeking support to strengthen the hand of BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Mr. Radhakrishnan has been attending about 100 roadside meetings in a day besides packing in unplanned engagements. While the candidate sweats its out, often without even a lunch break, party cadre go on household visits. With the second phase of the campaigning to start on Tuesday, BJP hopes to bring in Mr. Modi to end the campaign with a bang.

Without the organisational machinery and financial muscle of rival fronts, Aam Aadmi Party candidate Anitha Pratap’s campaigning draws energy from what she regards as the groundswell of support from the public. Excited by the response, the candidate gets down even at unscheduled points.

Claiming their campaigning vehicle as the biggest campaigning tool, the AAP juggernaut gains steam from the “anger and disgust” of the people towards the present political set-up in the State that has deprived large sections of the public even basic amenities like drinking water and drainage.

Ms. Pratap projects AAP as the newfound option for an electorate, which till this election had to repost their faith on LDF and UDF alternatively.

AAP is about to complete the first phase of campaign.

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