Chennithala’s Kerala Yatra to begin on April 18

The Congress hopes to break new ground with Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala’s one-month Kerala Yatra to be launched on April 18.

The proclaimed objective of the ‘yatra,’ as it winds its way through the 140 Assembly constituencies, is to prepare the party for the Lok Sabha elections. This would be Mr. Chennithala’s third ‘yatra’ of its kind, but, this time, he will focus on breaking new ground for the party in the crucial Lok Sabha elections.

The main attempt will be to aim at a repeat performance of the 2009 results when the United Democratic Front (UDF) won 17 Lok Sabha seats from the State. At best, he will make an attempt to ensure a level playing field for the Congress. In the process, attempts will be made to brush aside the irritants of factionalism.

In the last two years of UDF rule, Mr. Chennithala has been in the process of organising various campaigns. The first one was focused on Kasaragod at a time when communal problems were looming large. The State government’s decision to implement a Rs.11, 000-crore special package for the development of the district was the outcome of the ‘Sadbhavana yatra’ he had undertaken in the district. This was followed by another campaign in the Attapaddy tribal belt, focused on the development of tribespeople. Mr. Chennithala also carried out his Gandhi Gram campaigns in the scheduled caste hamlets in several districts, to highlight the lack of development in these areas.

According to KPCC sources, the Kerala Yatra will make an attempt to build on the political gains that the party perceives to have made by these campaigns.

Congress sources attribute great importance to the ‘yatra,’ which hopes to capitalise on the problems in the Communist party of India (Marxist) [CPI-M]. In north Malabar, the focus will be to neutralise the threat of fundamentalist fringe groups which appear to have made inroads in places such as Kannur. Mr. Chennithala will make an attempt to repeat the success of his Kasaragod campaign, sources say. The ‘yatra’ will visit all the 140 constituencies and conclude on May 18, the second anniversary of the UDF government. The party hopes to rope in the All-India Congress Committee vice-president to address the massive rally on that day, sources say.